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The editor reviews a Farringdon restaurant with a South African touch, Jamie Oliver’s take on an Italian restaurant in a City banking hall and a remarkable low cost option open to Barbican residents while Liz Thomas samples the fare at our newest local which is getting mostly positive comment from residents.


Main restaurant section at Vivat Bacchus

Vivat Bacchus – Great food and wine with a South African touch

f you’re looking for a slightly different, and very

enjoyable, restaurant experience one doesn’t have to

venture far from the Barbican – to Vivat Bacchus on Farringdon Street to be precise on the opposite side of the road to its intersection with Charterhouse Street. Yes it has tables and chairs and a lively bar, but courtesy of its South African ownership it not only has some more standard dishes on the menu, but also some which are comparatively

rare on the London

restaurant scene – like a Springbok burger, or a Zebra steak. It has even been known to serve rattlesnake, cooked presumably, and once created a stir by the temporary introduction of a £1,000 tasting menu, which even generated a mention on the Richard & Judy talkshow on TV. But lest that last item above fills you

with dread about pricing, the normal menus are pretty standard in price for the area, while there is an excellent value fixed price two or three course option at £14.50 or £17.50 respectively, which is refreshing pricing given the quality of the food. Although the fixed price menu changes at regular intervals it is perhaps worth our publishing the current one at the time of writing, and our visit, in full here to give an idea of the offering:

Poached Salmon & Chives Rillettes / Coarse Pork Terrine with Red Onion Chutney ~Pan Fried Rainbow Trout, Fennel & Orange Salad / Butternut Squash & Marjoram Risotto / Sous Vide Chicken Breast, Wholegrain Mustard Mash & Trufle Jus

~Rhubarb Creme Brulée / Set Cheese Board (£4.50 Supplement) On the a la carte menu dishes range in

price from £4.50 to £10.75 for the starters and from £9.75 for one of the restaurant’s special home made pies (these change in content from day to day) or perhaps £11.75 for the Springbok burger up to £19.95 for the grilled zebra steak – or a little more for English sirloin steak. In between are pan


fried gilthead bream at £14, chicken fricassee at £15.25 or cod supreme with seafood stew at £18.50. But judging by the meal we had the

quality of the food is first rate. My companion went for the prix fixe menu with the salmon and chives rillettes – a large portion which was described as extremely tasty followed by the vegetarian butternut squash and marjoram risotto, which again was described as brilliant. On the other hand I tried the a la carte

with grilled calamari and chorizo – an excellent combination with the chorizo adding a nice kick to the squid – which was served as an almost small steak sized portion. I followed this with the zebra steak which was very tender and to me tasted better than most beef steaks I’ve had at some very highly rated establishments – chosen primarily because it was not something I’d tried beforehand – even though I did live in South Africa in my early 20s. The first courses were washed down with

a glass of a South African chardonnay (my dining companion) and a South African sauvignon while I honoured the zebra steak with an excellent pinotage (again South African). However lest from the above one thinks that all the wines on offer were South African this is not so. There is an

extensive wine list offering a range of carefully selected wines from all around the world – although the list is dominated by South Africa which offers, provided you know what you are looking for with the South African offerings as the restaurant owners obviously do, wines that are a match for those from anywhere in the world except perhaps at the very top end of the scale. Desserts were excellent too and these

again were accompanied by a South African dessert wine – a late harvest Riesling which in itself was an extremely pleasing eye-opener. One dessert in particular – my companion’s Varlhona Chocolate Textura - was particularly appealing and would be a chocaholic’s dream. It appeared on the plate as a spherical chocolate ball – a kind of mini round easter egg is the best description I can think of – over which was poured a hot thin white chocolate sauce which melted the outer casing and exposed the mixed chocolate centre. But how about atmosphere and service –

both very important on an evening out? We went on a Wednesday evening and the restaurant was buzzing, which in itself is a great recommendation.

Our waiter

informed us it was like that every night of the week. Service was extremely efficient

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