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BARBICAN LIFE Restaurant REVIEWS Local hotels with classy restaurants T


he area around the Barbican used to be pretty devoid of hotels that anyone might actually want to stay in, but over the past decade or so several have sprung up – and a particular benefit for Barbican residents is that some of these also have restaurants of an excellent standard which, given they are in hotels and need to serve an overnight clientele mostly serve food morning noon and night. Breakfasting locally used to be largely a choice of the transport type cafes in Whitecross Street – I’m not knocking these – they do serve excellent value full English type breakfasts – and the establishments around Smithfield catering to hungry carnivorous market porters and traders and doctors and nurses coming off duty at St Barts. – and consequently served perhaps the best (in quantitative terms) breakfasts in the whole country. But now there are hotels where one can dine in more comfortable surroundings – even appropriate for business breakfast meetings – horror of horrors – as well as providing excellent lunches and dinners.


Probably the newest of these is the South Place Hotel – on South Place, a short stretch of street between Moorgate and Liverpool Street and thus a mere stone’s throw from the eastern end of the Barbican. This is a smallish, very modern, boutique hotel which, by all accounts is extremely comfortable. It is the first hotel from restaurateurs D&D London and it combines Conran- designed interiors, 2 restaurants, 3 bars and 5 private dining and meeting rooms. The hotel opened in October – and a quick search of Trip Advisor to see what guests think of it is illuminating. At the time of writing there were 41 customer reviews of the hotel of which 31 were at the top of the website’s rankings and the remained in the next category down. Not even one of those commenting had anything bad to say about the hotel and its service – that is a truly remarkable result and a huge tribute to the designers and staff.


By virtue of the fact, , as I understand it that there was some Russian spy ring located in a neighbouring building in the


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1920s there is an underlying muted spy/James Bond kind of theme in some of the hotel’s bars – one is called Le Chiffre for example.


A


Angler - great seafood close at hand


s for the principal restaurant - Time was when the last place you would find a top eating experience would be at an in-house hotel restaurant (apart from in hugely expensive 5* establishments). This is something which remains true today at many hotels throughout the UK and elsewhere, but among the latest batch of boutique hotels we are finding some which really do deliver the goods as far as a great evening out eating experience is concerned. I am glad to say that Angler Restaurant atop the South Place Hotel is one of these. It occupies an extremely attractive space, long and fairly narrow, with sloping windows looking out over South Place and an outdoor terrace at one end where one may also eat when the weather is appropriate (plenty of heaters which makes it usable on cooler days too) and a very cosy small bar area. But lest long and fairly narrow sounds off-putting, the main restaurant area decor and ambience are great. Tables have crisp white tablecloths – something which in this reviewer’s opinion gives an added plus to the overall feel for the quality that is being delivered. We were seated at the table quickly and friendlily and the menus delivered –


a la carte and table d’hote options and a very comprehensive wine list with a good selection of wines available by the glass. But a great looking menu which made choice difficult. There was also what I would deem to be an excellent value set menu at £25 for two courses or £30 for three, with a choice of three starters, three mains and two desserts or the cheese board. All were extremely interestingly described which made it particularly difficult to choose between the a la carte and the set – in the end I compromised with a starter and dessert from the former and a main from the latter.


Prices: apart from the good value set menu, and perhaps a rather expensive shellfish platter starter, the individual dish prices on the a la carte menu are probably about average for a classy restaurant in the City. Most starters come in at between £8.50 to £18.00.


The long, elegant dining room sparkles beneath a specially commissioned, mirrored ceiling by Grace & Webb that (literally) reflects the glamorous location


Angler’s roof terrace


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