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Three in a Row S

ince I started Barbican Life some eight years ago now we have only occasionally looked at restaurants to the south of the Estate, but in this issue we will be looking at two bar restaurants and an oriental restaurant on Gresham Street (all three virtually next door to each other) and almost opposite the Guildhall, so in close walking distance particularly for those who reside in the southern parts of the complex.

It has to be said immediately that the trend to bar/restaurants seems to be the way forward for those which largely cater to the City office crowd as such establishments with the right atmosphere certainly pull in the clientele – and the two of this type we are covering in this issue certainly have great atmosphere – and can also provide some spectacular food choices which place them well into the foodie focus. The third is a high quality Chinese restaurant which just happens to be located right next by. The first of the bar/restaurants, in particular, does offer something quite special in both food and wine. Bar Battu at 48 Gresham Street, on the site of a previous restaurant – Molloys – describes itself as a European wine bar and bistro. (Bistro nowadays seems to be the term restaurants use to denote interesting French-style food in the medium price range, although perhaps it is doubtful whether a French bistro restaurateur would recognise the terminology as it is often applied here!)

Bar Battu

Owned by restaurateur Simon Binder and chef Darrin Jacobs, Bar Battu

opened in early October. The site has

been transformed by architects/interior designers Mackenzie Wheeler into a two- storey, 120-seat informal rustic space. On the ground floor, there is a wine bar area and dining space for up to 80, and on the upper level there is additional seating for 40. The head chef is Sydney Aldridge, who has worked at Galvin Bistrot de Luxe, Hoxton Hotel, and at Terminus in the (former) Great Eastern Hotel in the City- he and Darrin Jacobs have collaborated on the menus for Bar Battu. The result of this combination is some decidedly interesting, and very tasty, food. The food is served under the headings of Charcuterie (£5-£12); Small plates (£4.25-£6.50); Large plates (£9- £20); Desserts (£4.00). There are also Bar plates available at the bar. Within these categories there are some extremely interesting combination dishes – snail and oxtail ragout, crab and chicory remoulade, a comprehensive selection of charcuterie, beetroot, goats cheese and hazelnut salad. It’s also interesting to note that if bread and water is ordered this comes at a flat rate of £1.50 a head which includes very fresh French bread and butter and a bottle of either still or sparkling water.

All one can say is that the food selection is extremely enticing and those dishes sampled were excellent.


general reviews of this bar/restaurant – but mainly restaurant have been very positive. It was described by Fay Maschler in the Evening Standard, perhaps not meant as a compliment, as being a clone of the very popular Terroirs wine bar/restaurant in Covent Garden, but it may even be better – and is, so far, easier to get a table. The comparison is apt in terms of the type of food and the way it is served – and also a very interesting wine list covering a number of unusual ‘natural’ wines – virtually all French with a token Italian and Spaniard! The restaurant itself notes on its website: “Natural wines are all about purity and an h th

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18 e values and qualities of th o h ich is wh y we want to sh em.”

Looking to the south a group of three restaurants on Gresham Street, all in a row, offer some interesting, and entertaining, food and drink choices.

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Service is attentive and knowledgeable, which is important given the relatively novel take on the food and the wine. Atmosphere on a weekday evening was lively without being over- noisy and the ambience was excellent. Recommended.

Bar Battu is open weekdays from 11.30 am to 11 pm – Tel: 0207 7036 6100 for bookings. Website Almost immediately to the east of Bar Battu, at No. 58, is The Anthologist, which opened in April last year, and this provides quite a contrast in the Bar/Restaurant genre. Firstly the space is enormous. Apparently it will accommodate around 1100 people and still meet fire regulations, and it is immediately apparent that this is one of the places to be for the City crowd. Even on a Tuesday evening it was buzzing. It has a large bar area and a restaurant section with an open kitchen. There is also a much smaller downstairs section which is mainly used for smaller private parties. Here the food is more pub style with a difference, but does extend to a 14 oz Cote de boeuf at £19.95. But for the most part main dishes are reasonable at between £6 and £10 including a range of quite impressive salads for those looking to eat more healthily. The pricing and range probably helps account for its popularity with the City office crowd particularly at lunch times and wines by the glass are not priced unreasonably either.

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The Anthologist is one of those in relatively new restaurant group, Drake and Morgan run by Jillian Maclean, but which already has some high profile establishments under its belt – but all of the bar/restaurant genre. Indeed the Anthologist is not even the largest of the properties – it is pipped, just, by The Folly in Gracechurch Street near The Monument which can accommodate 1200!

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