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Chiswell Street Dining Rooms Review

Julie Falconer has a spoonful too many at the Chiswell Street Dining Rooms

Published on August 16th 2011.

Chiswell Street Dining Rooms Review

I always get excited to try new restaurants. This is particularly true when someone I know recommends one. And even more true when that someone is a food critic.

It was mostly the after-work City crowd, replete with black suits and a male:female ratio of, well, who am I kidding? There was only one woman in about three tables full of men. The odds are good, ladies.

When said friend recently raved about the new Chiswell Street Dining Rooms in Moorgate, I knew I had to go and see what all the fuss was about. I made a booking, called a friend, and showed up at the restaurant at 8pm on a Monday evening.


The restaurant was pretty empty, but it was a Monday after all. We were seated next to an elderly couple that must have arrived at 5:30pm, because they were already finishing their coffee when we sat down. As they got ready to leave, they called the waitress over to their table and went off about how horrible the music was and how they would never come back.

My friend and I started laughing. The music was fine, and the silver foxes didn’t exactly strike us as the restaurant’s target market anyway. I was happy when the waitress politely told them that the tunes weren’t going to change.

Left alone, we each ordered a glass of Joseph Perrier Champagne (£8.50). It was decent, not the best I’ve ever had, but certainly nothing to complain about. The price point wasn’t bad, either.

Poached purple artichokes, soft boiled quail%26#8217%3Bs eggs, crisp fried shallots, fris%26#233%3Be and mustard aioliPoached purple artichokes, soft boiled quail's eggs, crisp fried shallots, frisée and mustard aioli

As we sipped, we enjoyed some fresh bread and butter and surveyed our surroundings. The dining room consisted of two spaces that were partially separated by a wall. Outside of them was a bar/lounge area where people enjoyed after-work drinks. The large windows let in great amounts of natural light that shone onto the white tablecloths and sleek, lime green chairs.

Finishing our champagne, we embarked on our culinary adventures. I started with the poached purple artichokes, soft boiled quail’s eggs, crisp fried shallots, frisée and mustard aioli (£7.50). It was a good salad, with the right proportions of each ingredient and just enough dressing to give it flavour without drowning the leaves.

Diver-caught Isle of Man king scallops with English samphire and lemon thymeDiver-caught Isle of Man king scallops with English samphire and lemon thyme

My friend had the diver-caught Isle of Man king scallops with English samphire and lemon thyme (£9.50). They came beautifully presented on shells and were just the right consistency.

We enjoyed our starters with the first glasses of a bottle of Viognier/Marsanne, Reserve de Gassac, IGP Pays l’Herault 2010 (£25). I normally don’t drink white wine, but given the nature of our food and the fact that it was boiling hot outside, it seemed the right choice for the evening.

And our particular bottle was definitely the right choice for our meal. The wine was light, crisp and refreshing, and went very well with our food. Our waitress forgot which of us ordered it at first, but quickly corrected herself (she also spilled water on the table while pouring my friend a glass (off night?). I just wish she hadn’t put it on ice ten feet away from us, because later in the meal she completely forgot about it and I went a painfully long time between glasses.

Native Scottish lobster and king prawn risottoNative Scottish lobster and king prawn risotto

But back to the food. For our mains we both ordered the native Scottish lobster and king prawn risotto (£19). It came in wide bowls and had a pinkish white colour, compliments of the shellfish. The rice was a tiny bit crunchy, but otherwise the dish was great. I finished all of it despite getting full about half way through.

By the time we finished our mains, the restaurant had filled up. It was mostly the after-work City crowd, replete with black suits and a male:female ratio of, well, who am I kidding? There was only one woman in about three tables full of men. The odds are good, ladies.

The dessert menu was extensive, and had two sections. The first was the traditional puddings, including cheesecake, sticky toffee pudding and tarte tatin. The second was titled ‘Coupes’. I liked that. There were two choices, one a fruit-inspired option called the classic British Knickerbocker Glory (£8.50), the other simply called the chocolate sundae (£8.50). We ordered one of each.

The tall sundae glasses, long spoons and whipped cream all made me feel like a kid again. They were sweet, simple desserts, my chocolate one with chunks of brownie, her Knickerbocker Glory with poached peaches, blackberries and raspberry coulis. We were so full by the end that we couldn’t finish them, but we were happy to have had the opportunity to make an attempt.

After the meal we made the surprisingly long journey to the washrooms, which were up a flight of stairs and in some sort of office building or hotel. I wasn’t sure what the story was behind their location, but they were nice and well maintained, so I was happy.

Back in the dining room, we made our way through the sea of suits to the door. Despite feeling more full than I had been in a long time, I was glad that my food critic friend had insisted I try the new Chiswell Street Dining Rooms. If I find myself in Moorgate again anytime soon, I will be back.

Chiswell Street Dining Rooms
56 Chiswell Street
London, EC1Y 4SA

Rating:         15/20

Breakdown: 8/10 food
                    3/5 service
                    4/5 ambience


Follow @ALadyinLondon on Twitter!

To read more of Julie’s writing, visit her London travel blog and Europe travel website.

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: We get carried away.

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