16 September 2011
Mayer Brown banking head Dominic Griffiths and senior PR manager Charlotte Ward had fond memories of Clement Freud while dining at Lutyens.
Best for: dinner with US clients
Worst for: a quick escape
Nearest tube: Chancery Lane/St Pauls
Writer, broadcaster and politician Clement Freud had something to say on nearly every topic but as we sat at our table overlooking St Bride’s Church, the journalist’s church which held Sir Clement’s funeral, we recalled his fondness for old favourite eatery Le Brasserie in South Kensington.
He particularly liked the restaurant for its predictability. A restaurant should be reliable- and that sums up Lutyens perfectly.
Once you’ve entered the former Reuters building on Fleet Street and made your way through the bar, you are brought into a large 130-seater dining room. It’s a cross between a French bistro, with half height curtains and waiters in smart aprons, and an upmarket hotel lobby. Comfortable, relaxed, but not particularly brash or cutting edge either.
Another Knight of the Realm, Sir Terence Conran designed the interior. It’s all sage green and dark wood chairs. The kitchen is open with shiny copper pots dangling from the ceiling. It reminded Dom of a lighter version of his favourite City restaurant, The Boundary.
The food was as reliable as the decor. You could happily take clients here, sure in the knowledge that you would get a good, traditional meal with attentive, unfussy service.
Dom started with the dressed crab (£18) which he said was fresh and well presented. I love oysters and couldn’t decide between the Speciale de Claire, Maldon or Carlingford Lough, so opted for a mixed half a dozen (£14). If I am honest I am not sure I’d be able to tell you which was which in a blind taste test, but all were good.
The waiter recommended the whole roasted grouse, one of the two specials, and to mark the start of the shooting season Dom tucked in with relish. The dish was beautifully presented with all the trimmings- game chips and separate jugs of gravy and bread sauce. Dom, who, unlike his colleague William Charnley, has not yet been to the Scottish Moors to bag a few, said it was the perfect level of “gameyness”. My grilled langoustines with thyme and garlic (£26) were also very tasty.
After more than his fair share of a decent bottle of 2004 Chateau Cissac, Dom was warming to his theme of “reliable” and declared that his crème brulee (£7.50) was “reassuringly traditional.” My cheese (£12), from a small but excellently chosen selection arrived in an elaborate trolley that wouldn’t have looked out of place housing exotic plants at Kew.
The restaurant is very well situated right opposite Goldman Sachs on Fleet Street, at the boundary between the City and the West End. I’d read that the restaurant clientele was predominantly male, and that may be the case at lunch, but as you’d expect from the location there was a real mix of diners in the evening. We bumped into several members of the finance team from Ropes & Gray on the way in, so clearly a popular choice for discerning lawyers.
As we finished our meal with Dom bemoaning the fact that he had given up smoking almost a year ago, it is perhaps fitting to reflect on another famous saying by Clement Freud: “If you resolve to give up smoking, drinking and loving, you don’t actually live longer; it just seems longer.”
Happily, time flew by at this welcome addition to the London restaurant scene.
Reviewed by Charlotte Ward, senior PR & marketing manager, and Dominic Griffiths, head of banking & finance, at Mayer Brown
Lutyens serves breakfast from 7:30am and is now open for dinner and drinks from 5:30pm and is available for exclusive hire at weekends. As well as the a la carte menu, the Menu Compris is available at dinner for £39.50 for three courses, a half-bottle of wine, water, coffee/ tea and petit fours.
Readers of The Lawyer can get 20 per cent off Lutyens Club membership, effective from 1 September. http://www.lutyens-restaurant.com/members-club