An advertisement poorly written on a blackboard – of the sort you might see outside a boozer on a sink estate – forms one’s first impression of this City newcomer. Well, the Barbican may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s certainly no sink estate. Indeed – unusually for the City – this is an area offering potential for good lunch and dinner business, so it ought to be able to sustain more decent restaurants than there currently are.

Press on past the depressing blackboard, and you find a not-especially-inviting drinking area that’s somewhere between a wine bar and a pub. At this point, however, there is, literally, a glimmer in the distance – contrary to every external impression, it turns out that this is a waterside property.

Some of the tables may have an interesting lake-prospect, but the dining area shares the rather uninspired décor of the rest of the place. Percussive, too – the space can be dominated, as it was on our visit, by one man with a very loud voice.

The arrival of some decent bread, however, signalled that things were looking up, and the whole meal turned out better than we had been expecting. The menu – including a selection of very reasonably-priced light lunch options – may not be ambitious, but what is done is generally done well. Highlight of our meal was a very satisfying smoked haddock and poached egg number. A chocolate mousse – nicely offset with some warm orange segments – was also of modest note.

So, contrary to external appearances, it turns out that this could be a useful venue for a light lunch, or a pre-concert meal. Now, if only they could get that lakeside terrace licensed’

Recent News from Harden's

Share this article: