Once the home of Charles Dickens first love, Maria Beadnell, the opening of 1776 by Soren Jessen has a feminine feel compared with its bustling big brother brasserie. Kerstin Kühn reports
Banker-turned-restaurateur Soren Jessen has run his City brasserie 1 Lombard Street for almost 15 years. But last autumn, he decided it was time to revamp and branch out by opening a new restaurant: 1776 right next door.
Set behind 1 Lombard Street and accessed either through the restaurant or via its own entrance on Mansion House Place, the new 40-seat dining room is a quiet haven away from the bustling brasserie. Softly-lit with pastel tones, big windows and large paintings on the wall, it displays a more feminine touch than its adjacent big brother.
Head chef Juri Ravagli, who oversees the kitchens of both 1 Lombard Street and 1776, explains the main difference between the two restaurants: "1 Lombard Street is still a brasserie, while at 1776 we're trying to recreate the philosophy of the private club mentality." Having previously worked at Drone's Club, George Club and Harry's Bar, he's right in his element.
"We're not here to show off or create funky dinners with our menu, but we're offering something that people can come and enjoy every day," he says.
This means a menu of international flavours with lots of different options to choose from. "The key is simplicity and flexibility and we're happy to give customers exactly what they want," Ravagli adds.
Indeed the menu offers something for everyone, with a focus both on high quality produce and on healthy eating. "We don't use a lot of butter or cream, it's not what people want these days," the chef explains.
Typical dishes include a starter of Mazara Del Vallo red prawn carpaccio (£18), which he sources from Sicily and serves with a light citrus salad; or English snails (£16.50). "The snails come from Hertfordshire and we cook them with smoked pancetta and serve them in a potato nest, which is nice and crispy compared to the softness of the snails. We add a salad of pea shoots and a little bit of veal jus, which rounds off the dish," Ravagli adds.
There's also a section of tartares - including tuna (£18); yellowtail (£24); Fallow deer (£20); and Scottish Black Angus (£24) - with all meat tartares made at the table to guests' tastes for a bit of additional theatre. In the same vein, there's a daily-changing roast from a hot carving trolley, including suckling pig with apple sauce.
Meanwhile, main courses feature a selection of pasta and risotto dishes (showcasing the chef's Italian heritage), as well as a large choice of meat and seafood options.
These include grilled Dover sole, served with baby clams, cannellini beans and rosemary oil (£36); or roasted Fallow deer cutlets with figs, sweet potato and cranberry sauce (£26).
"I only use Fallow deer, it has a sweeter taste and isn't as gamey, and as it is a smaller animal, it is also much more tender," Ravagli says. "I serve it with sweet potato rosti to give a crunchy texture to the dish and cranberry sauce to add a bit of bitterness and pull everything together."
The dessert menu features a variety of classics: crème brulée (£7.50); sticky toffee pudding (£7.50); chocolate fondant (£8); or baked blueberry cheesecake (£7.50).
But it's the pudding trolley that is the highlight for diners with a sweet tooth. Here Ravagli serves things like fruit salad; panna cotta, chocolate mousse or mini tartlets; next to a choice of three daily-changing cakes, with typical options such as chocolate cake, lemon cake or almond cake. And being positioned in the centre of the dining room, the trolley certainly makes it difficult to resist.
With 1776 Jessen has created an intimate, quiet dining room in balance to the busy 1 Lombard Street next door. Offering flexibility and choice as well as the theatre of dishes made at the table, it has brought a touch of Mayfair's clubs to City diners.
Sample dishes from the menu
- Native lobster salad, braised radicchio, puy lentils & vintage balsamic £28
- Asparagus & duck egg salad, fine beans, creamy mustard sauce £14.95
Pasta & risotto
- Saffron ristotto with shin of veal ragout £28
- Tonnarelli with native lobster £26
Meat and seafood
- Caramalised black cod with ponzu sauce, red cabbage, root vegetables, pok choi £40
- Mint crusted fillet of lamb, sautéed baby vegetables, stuffed baby peppers £25
- Apple Charlotte, custard and vanilla ice-cream £7.50
- Cappucinno pann cotta £7
1 Lombard Street,
London EC3V 9AA
020 7929 6611