Located on Warwick Court, the Paternoster Chop House has the best views of St. Paul's Cathedral you could wish for. Walking towards it from across the court you can see the lovely terraced seating area out in front, which was completely packed on the Thursday afternoon that I was eating lunch. The interior was also full to bursting. Inside the restaurant itself there is a harmony between the modern and the traditional that is reflected in the menu. Large mirrors and crisp lighting reflect back old-world furniture and dark wood. It is not at all surprising given how close Warwick Court sits to the Stock Exchange that the majority of customers were City based suits. I was definitely in the minority as there were very few women and, surprisingly for the location, almost no tourists. Despite my looking a little out of place the staff were very welcoming and created a friendly atmosphere which was maintained throughout the meal.
The menus are beautiful and full of great ideas. After ordering drinks we settled down to the serious business of trying to choose from the numerous options, from new ideas to old favourites. There is a great amount of attention to detail that really shone through. Although it was noisy during the lunch time rush our table was still private and with those fantastic views.
The langoustines were very fresh and tender their natural sweetness was joined with an unexpected nuttiness. For starters we had the Chop House smoked Mackerel and dressed potato salad (£8.00) and the Rainbow Swiss Chard and Spenwood cheese tart (£7.50). The mackerel was delicately smoked with the natural flavour of the mackerel still there, coming in after the smoke, it went well with the light potato salad which was fresh enough to balance the salt in the fish. The chard tart was light with a very loose consistency although I thought it was a little under seasoned, the pastry was buttery but not too rich. It was served with a light salad that added a great texture as well as a nice bright taste.
There is a huge range of options to choose from for main courses. As well as lots of traditional meat dishes there are good vegetarian options and some inventive fish dishes that stand up well against the steaks and larger chops of meat. My partner in crime chose to have the 'Beast of the Day' which was a grouse served with smoked bacon, bread sauce, roasting juices and blackberries (£25.00) and I opted for the Middle White pork, apple sauce and crackling (£22.00). We also had a selection of the side orders; Maris Piper roast potatoes (£4.00), British runner beans (£3.75), and Summer Greens (£3.75). The grouse was wonderful, and it was just the right sort of overcast September day to be enjoying grouse and blackberries. The bread sauce was a little clumpy and was missing the usual onion flavour. Served as a whole bird the dish looked impressive and came with a few shoestring fries as well. The pork was very nicely cooked, moist and with bags of flavour although it was a rather fatty cut and the apple sauce was a bit too sweet. The crackling had a really good crunch to it but wasn't as flavourful as I'd been hoping for. The summer greens were beautiful, perfectly cooked and packed a punch of healthy taste. The runner beans weren't bad but tasted a bit out of season, too big and tough. The roast potatoes looked beautiful but were oily and not hot enough so the lovely crunch wasn't there and the flavour of the potatoes seemed rather lost.
The staff were brilliant throughout the meal, they knew the menu really well and were great with recommendations and questions about dishes. Although the restaurant was packed the service was quick without feeling rushed.
As well as the main restaurant menu there is a set menu offering two courses for £21.50 or three courses for £25.50. It has a great selection of dishes and is really good value for money.
Although rather full the dessert menu was so tempting we forced ourselves to indulge and chose the Victoria plum and almond tart with almond and honey ice cream (£7.00) and the Sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce (£6.50). The pudding was light but a little overdone on the base. It had a nice balance of dates to the sponge and was served with a clotted cream and caramel sauce. Overall it was rich but not too sweet or heavy. The plum and almond tart was the highlight of the whole meal. It was stunningly light and a very subtle combination of the plum, almond and warm pastry. The tart came with a vanilla cream and broken nuts as well as a perfect honey and almond ice cream, that I could easily eat every day and be a very happy girl.
Recently the Paternoster Chop House has also introduced a breakfast menu that runs right up until 11am and includes such wonders as Chop House crumpets & fresh honeycomb (£ 4.50) and Anglesey eggs with potato, spinach & chestnut mushrooms (£8.50). Homemade crumpets and honeycomb with a cup of their excellent coffee sounds perfect to me, especially before starting out on a visit to St. Paul's or the nearby Tate Modern. A great location is luckily just the start here with skilled cooking right across the menu.
Follow V.C. Linde on Twitter: www.twitter.com/vclinde