I had a proper sit-down breakfast this morning. A leisurely one which involved waitress service, a card menu, and a nice white cotton napkin. A departure from the usual rushed croissant and coffee grabbed on my way to the office. Bread Street Kitchen is Gordon Ramsay’s new venture in the shadows of St Paul’s and the abandoned copies of the Financial Times on the House-of-Commons-green banquette reminded me that I was more than a little late for my City breakfast. It was only 0930 but I had the entire first floor restaurant to myself. They start early here in the financial district and I loved the fact that I missed the suited and booted breakfast sitting.
If you’ve eaten at Gordon’s (can I say that I’ve never met him) Plane Food in Heathrow’s Terminal Five, they’ve adopted the same principle here. A no-nonsense speedy service, which means diners are in and out within thirty minutes.
The Breakfast Menu is a muted mustard colour, sure to wake your eyes, even if the brain may take a little longer to follow. There was a varied choice from a mixed bakery basket (£4.95) to the full English (£11.95). Ricotta hot cakes, banana and honeycomb butter (£7.00) sounded the most exciting but I fancied savoury so opted for the open omelette with Gruyère cheese and wild mushroom (£8.50). And I’m glad I did because a hot plate arrived with an inch thick omelette oozing the words eat me. Cooked perfectly with plenty of the elastic cheese and nutty wild mushroom sitting in a well seasoned just-set egg, plenty big enough for breakfast without toast. If I wanted that, I’d have to pay £2.50 but they’d throw the jam in for free. I asked for a semi-skimmed cappuccino but they only use whole milk. Oh well, one less coffee won’t do me any harm at all.
The restaurant is absolutely stunning on all levels. Turning a newly built space into what looks like an ageing New York diner takes some doing and they have totally pulled it off. Brass rails, plenty of steel and glass, great lighting, chequer board floors and ceramic white tiles. I discover the designer is Russell Sage. Of course it is. He’s recently completed designs for The Savoy Grill and The Zetter Townhouse. Both restaurants I absolutely love. But, today I discover that Russell has an angle poise lamp fetish. They’re everywhere in a War of the Worlds kind of way I feel they’re actually watching me demolish each mouthful. His team must have scouted for hours around garage and boot sales, Ebay and Freecycle to transform the enormous interior with marble tables, a fair amount of Vintage Ercol, gymnasium horses and a batch of chairs stolen from a Dad’s Army set. I’m not doing a really good job at making this sound attractive but believe me, it works so well. Even the toilets have been touched by the quirky wand. Even the toilet roll holder is made of old pipe. It’s this kind of inventive design that has me grinning from ear-to-ear. This look didn’t come cheap either and it shows that they’ve spent a reported £5million. There’s also been a twelve-month delay in opening, but I believe if something’s worth doing well, it’s worth waiting for. I only hope Gordon’s accountant thinks so too.
The ground floor serves take-away coffee and pastries first thing and then transforms into somewhere to sit and have a glass of wine and nibble on dare I say it, the hateful words that are now what London is apparently leading a revolution on — small plates. Flat bread, squash, caper berries and taleggio (£4.50), carpaccio of octopus, capers, black olives and a saffron vinaigrette (£3.50) there’s also a salmon ceviche with ruby grapefruit, jalapeno, lime and coriander (£3.50). There’s a mixed cured meat plate with pickles and chilli (£7.50) and wines and champagnes by the glass from the reasonable Tempranillo Rioja (£4.50) to the Chassagne Montrachet (£18.00) but these are all aimed at the wallets and tastes of City gals and boys. When the offices kick out, the barman tells me they serve a mean cocktail.
A late lunch is available between 3 and 5 and offers a selection of dishes from the main menu. When the sun sets the canteen goes from day to night and the space changes to entertain the evening clientele.
That’s when the main menu comes into its own. Split into five headings, the ‘Raw Bar’ includes the starters Lemon and lime marinated tuna (£11.50), oysters on the half shell (£12.50), king crab and apple cocktail (£15.00). ‘Salads’ are predictable and are all around the £7.50 mark. Expect a celery, blue cheese and cob nut combo with a pancetta Caesar salad. ‘Hot Kitchen’ starters include a simple white onion soup with a cheese twist (£6.50), a crab tagliolini (£9.50) (£14.25) and baked Orkney scallops, treacle-cured bacon and bitter cress (£12.50) (£18.75). The mains are varied, rigatoni (£7.50) (£11.25), steamed bass and the ubiquitous burger but with a twist. This includes Bermondsey Friar Cheese. And if it’s what I think it is, this cheese was created under a railway arch in South East London by cheesemonger William Oglethorpe of Kappacasein Dairy. It tastes a little like unsalted halloumi but I can imagine it getting the treatment atop a medium rare burger under that volcano-heat fire. Herdwick mutton and potato pie sounds like an upmarket Shepherd’s Pie and it has a price tag to match (£16.00) I’m sure the Worcestershire Sauce makes all the difference but isn’t that a main ingredient anyway? There are a few fish dishes, bass, plaice tuna, trout all around the £16.00 mark. The most expensive dish on the menu is a grilled Aberdeen Angus rib-eye with beef marrowbone (£29.50) followed closely by a veal chop with a celery, anchovy and chilli salad (£24.00). The ‘Wood Stone’ section includes a roasted lobster with a simple ginger, chilli and garlic seasoning (£27.00). I’ve had lobster cooked this way in the past and the flavour is quite special because the thing is so damn hot there’s no moisture loss and the lobster meat remains juicy.
A more reasonable braised pork collar with a mustard glaze was on offer (£15.50) with a suckling pig and spiced apple sauce (£16.00). Tamarind chicken wings (£8.0) and meat balls with tomato sauce (£7.50) and an oven-baked burrata, heritage tomatoes and onion tart caught my eye (£10.50). ‘Sides’ range between £3.50 and £4.50 and include hand cut chips, spiced honey carrots, mashed potato,Brussels tops with smoked bacon and Macaroni cheese with garlic-roasted crumbs. It’s up to you what you choose to go with your mains but to be honest this is an expensive way of eating but if you’ve got an expense account I don’t suppose you really care too much.
The dessert menu looks fabulous and I find it hard to see anything I wouldn’t order. Banana and maple upside down cake (£7.50) chocolate tart, salt caramel ice cream, honeycomb (£8.50) and a childhood favourite of rice pudding and jam (£7.50)
There’s Wi-Fi and the password is Breadstreet and I like that it is on the menu so you don’t have to ask or to write down a barcode of figures and letters.
For my part, I enjoyed my solitary breakfast, I loved the omelette and I loved the surroundings. I will be back; although I don’t have an expense account so I will be choosing quite carefully.
It’s not Ramsay at Claridges, it’s not Ramsay at the Trianon Palace and it’s definitely not Maze, but it is Ramsay taking on the high street, in fact competition isn’t too far away, Jamie Oliver’s barbecue restaurant ‘Barbecoa’ is opposite, but I don’t think Gordon has too much to worry about.
Bread Street Kitchen
One New Change,10 Bread Street, London, EC4M 9AB
020 3030 4050