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BARBICAN LIFE


Community Centre


restaurant – due for new furniture as part of the refurbishment.


quiet Monday evening was good with respect to both. One might quibble over the crispy squid, which was not that crispy, but that is a fault with many restaurants which was why I ordered it to see how well they achieved any degree of crispiness here, but it was very tasty nonetheless. Other antipasto options were excellent – the wild boar salami in particular being very good. My main course was Osso Buco


Milanese, served on a bed of polenta, thinking to sample the true Italian rustic fare on offer. (It was a choice for me of that or fritto misto but having had crispy fried squid opted for the former). Osso Buco is supposed to be long-cooked and the meat did truly fall off the bone suggesting that it was indeed so, and was a most enjoyable dish. My dining companion opted for a wild mushroom panzerotti – a vegetarian concoction – which she declared excellent as well (an opinion with which our excellent waitress wholly concurred – despite neither being vegetarians – which is a pretty good recommendation in its own right). For desserts we shared a tiramisu and panna cotta – both good. One thing which does stand out about the fairly small all-Italian wine selection is that all are available by bottle, 500ml pichet or by two different sizes of glass meaning that it is easy to select a different wine for each course if desired, and/or as an aperitif, without breaking the bank. We had proseccos as an aperitif,


around £35-45 depending on main course – at the lower end of the scale if you opt for pasta as a main, perhaps higher if a rib eye steak or veal escalope is what you fancy. Given its location in the middle of the


City’s main banking and business district, the restaurant is, not surprisingly, only open Monday to Friday for lunch and dinner from 12 noon through to 11 pm as is the case with most City eating establishments. Jamie’s


Italian is located at 38 I had very


reasonably priced Sicilian Shiraz with my main course (very pleasant) and my companion a verdicchio which she much appreciated. The meal was completed with a coffee and a pot of mint tea and a limoncello digestif. Overall a very pleasant dining-out experience. Not gourmet eating perhaps, but then it’s not designed to be, but as a venue for a good, wholesome, Italian style food experience in the heart of the City at, by City standards at least, a reasonable cost. A good place for a business lunch or a convivial dinner. The layout is also conducive to even reasonably sized group dining for perhaps a birthday treat or as an afterparty for a business meeting. Unlike the flagship in the chain, in


Canary Wharf, the Threadneedle Street branch does take bookings and for lunchtimes they will almost certainly be necessary. Price – well a two or three course meal


with the odd glass of wine and coffee afterwards would probably set you back


24


Threadneedle Street (at the Bishopsgate end) – telephone 0203 005 9445. You can check out the full menu and make a reservation on the website – www.jamieoliver.com/italian/threadneedle- street.


I


..and now for something completely different – a meal for around the price of a sandwich at St Lukes Community Centre


n a bit of a departure from our normal restaurant reviews we tried out a meal at the St. Luke’s Community Centre at


90 Central Street and found what could be the best value dining experience in the whole of London – a place where you literally can get a full meal for around the same price you’d pay for a sandwich at many sandwich shops. The St. Luke’s Community Centre is


supported by a charitable foundation and primarily has the purpose of providing community services to those residents who fall within the boundary of the ancient Parish of St Lukes. (St Lukes is the now deconsecrated Hawksmoor church on Old Street opposite the top end of Whitecross Street now owned by the London


Symphony Orchestra) and the parish boundaries take in parts of southern Islington and extend into the northern fringes of the City, including the Golden Lane Estate and just touching on the northern edge of the Barbican. The range of facilities at the Community


Centre – which is just in the stages of completing Phase 1 of a £2 million refurbishment programme – are extensive and it also runs various classes through the week, offers volunteer staffed legal and financial advice services and also operates some incredibly low cost great value day- out excursions which are frequently open to all – with those living outside the St. Luke’s parish paying just an extra £2 to participate. There is an amazing special kitchen space where cookery lessons are organised and which has also been used, in conjunction with the neighbouring dining area, for corporate entertaining. Once the current stage of the refurbishment programme is completed – around the time this issue of Barbican Lifegoes to press, we will return and run a more complete article on the Community centre and what it has to offer the local community. But back to the cafe/restaurant. It is a


self-service affair and is largely run by another


charitable organisation, the


Camden Trust which specialises in helping those with learning and other difficulties. As it was at the time of the visit the restaurant occupies a large and bright area with well spaced tables with a self service counter where one can choose one of the two hot dishes of the day, soup and dessert – or alternatively salads or beautifully prepared sandwiches with a choice of different kinds of breads, and coffee. Main


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