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BARBICAN LIFE


The second restaurant we are covering in this issue is something very different filling a huge two-storey space inside the City’s newest and tallest, office block – the Heron Tower – also on Bishopsgate. It is called The Drift and is run by specialist, and highly successful mega bar and restaurant company Drake and Morgan, proprietors of The Anthologist in Gresham Street, which impressed us a couple of issues ago, and three other big bar/restaurants. It is also very much a bar/restaurant as seems to be the modern trend and probably appeals to the younger City crowd most of all – although being open for breakfast from 7.30 the quite striking space occupied might make it a good place for a business breakfast at a time of day when it almost certainly won’t be too crowded. (their full English comes in at £8.95)


The entrance to the bar and restaurant is round the corner from Bishopsgate in Houndsditch. At ground level is a spectacular bar area with an enormously high ceiling – and with shelving behind the bar stretching seemingly up and up. The effect is ultra modern and really quite impressive). The restaurant and other bar areas and small semi private rooms and nooks is reached up an open staircase or glass sided lift – from both of which you can view the huge private aquarium that is the main feature behind the main Heron office building’s reception.


As with the ground floor bar, the restaurant is also ultra modern and the open kitchen and bar are also fairly prominent. Food is not too expensive for a City eatery and is very much a mixture of bar food-type offerings with some more sophisticated dishes as well – but here one probably could well get away under the £90 for two mark. The restaurant food though did not particularly impress – OK but nothing special – perhaps as befits a bar/restaurant type establishment. Service was relatively good but the serving of the food is somewhat quirky. Everything seems to be served on wooden boards rather than plates, which may be fine for some things but not so good for say a slightly crumbly skinny beefburger where bits tended to drop off the side. But quirkiest of all was the Cajun salad with salmon ordered by my companion for the evening which arrived on the obligatory board with the salad in a bog standard pyrex bowl (while the salmon steak sat on the board). There was no dressing with the salad – just oil – but served in a small pyrex measuring jug!


While the starters and mains were fairly


Ground floor bar at The Drift


ordinary. They were not particularly expensive either so overall costs of eating at The Drift are not excessive. By all accounts the cocktails are excellent though – and to finish we had ‘dessert substitute’ cocktails which were very pleasant indeed. Wines run from around £14 a bottle upwards – fairly reasonable for the area – or you can also order wine flights – a board (what else?) on which are three glasses of similar wines to give you a chance to sample different, but similar, varietals and/or similar wines from different countries. For example the Drift’s flight two is described as glasses of zesty aromatic whites, comprising a French sancerre, a Chilean Sauvignon and a Spanish Vedejoat £10.95, while flight four is a grouping of what are described as silky, fruit-driven, supple reds comprising an Argentinian Malbec and Cabernets from Chile and South Africa (the last of which is from a winery which the writer has visited between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek which has a spectacular restaurant with what are said to be the best views in Stellenbosch) So overall impressions of the Drift are a little mixed. The food we had was nothing to write home about, but the ambience was pleasant. Things were not that busy, but it was a Monday night. I would say go there for a drink to experience the impressive modernistic decor – and then maybe have a bite afterwards if anything on the menu strikes you as interesting enough to try – perhaps have one or more sharing boards or a hamburger or fish and chips, but not sure if it is really worth going to for a haute cuisine restaurant meal – but then that perhaps is not what the establishment’s purpose is primarily! But then pricewise one could probably fairly easily get away with three courses plus wine, coffee and a tip for around £70 for two which is pretty reasonable these days.


The Drift is open 7 days. Monday to


Wednesday from 7.30 am to 11.00 pm, Thursdays and Fridays from 7.30 am to 1 am, Saturdays from 10.00 am to midnight and Sundays from 10 am to 7 pm. On Sundays it does serve a Sunday Roast with all the trimmings at £12.95 which might well make it worth a visit for a casual occasion for the family. The street address is 110 Bishopsgate – but as noted above the actual entrance is round the corner in Houndsditch. Call 0845 468 0103 for reservations.


Finally we went to what we considered the piece de resistance among the venues featured in this issue – Madison – a bar restaurant on the top of One New Change where the location could make up for a number of shortcomings. Despite some not very complimentary reviews in the press and on the internet – although to be fair there were some good ones too – we found nearly everything to be excellent. Perhaps the only problem was that because of the number of people crowding the bar areas the venue was extremely noisy and it was difficult to carry on a conversation – but that is a result of popularity and I do suspect at crowded times of the day, like early evening when we went there, it would


A part of the restaurant area at The Drift


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