Chamberlain's restaurant in the City of London boasts contemporary cooking with a classical background from chef Andrew Jones. Janie Manzoori-Stamford paid a visit
Housed in the historic Leadenhall Market and surrounded by an ever-increasing number of steel and glass towers in the City of London, Chamberlain's restaurant
epitomises the juxtaposition of its location. Its menu, devised by executive chef Andrew Jones, features dishes best summed up as contemporary cookery with classical roots. Given his culinary background, that's no surprise.
An apprenticeship at Claridge's led to 13 years at the iconic hotel, during which Jones worked under Mario Lesnik, John Williams and Martyn Nail. After being named the 2004 Roux Scholar, Jones completed a stage at three-Michelin-starred Michel Bras in Laguiole, France, and executive chef roles at the Westbury hotel and Artisan, both in Mayfair. He joined Chamberlain's in 2011, later expanding his responsibilities to include the company's thriving event catering arm, while being made a shareholder of the business.
Since then, he's worked hard to refine the food offer, both in the three-storey main restaurant and the relaxed basement brasserie, so that the menus reflect his aspirations to serve "proper cooking". "I don't want all my meat going in the water bath," he says. "When it's game season, we serve traditionally roasted game. That's how I learned as a commis and that's how I feel it's best to cook it."
Steaks are served with the same approach, cooked in a pan, with butter, thyme and garlic because, for this chef, it's all about flavour. "If you've got quality ingredients, you don't need to do a lot to make them taste good. If the quality is poor, that's when you have to work hard to get flavour into your dish," he says.
These crowd-pleasers sit alongside more elaborate dishes, such as the paupiette of lemon sole. Here the fish is filled with a crab and salmon mousse, brushed with egg yolk, coated in Viennois breadcrumb, drizzled with clarified butter and baked. "The mousse puffs up in the centre and keeps the fish nice and moist, and the breadcrumbs on the outside are nice and crisp," says Jones. "At the moment we serve it with butternut squash, pickled wild mushrooms, spring onions and crab cream."
While lunchtime trade is thriving, Jones is keen to exploit other opportunities, including opening for Sunday lunch and plans to introduce a Saturday dinner service. "We pay rent on the building seven days a week, so why aren't we earning off it seven days a week?" he asks.
Jones has also introduced a set menu for lunch and dinner, and the restaurant offers a five-course tasting menu based on the Á la carte (£49.50). This is available with optional matching wines (£85), selected by operations director and sommelier Alessio Bascherini.
Dishes change two or three times a week, according to the ingredients available, such as the Darjeeling tea-smoked gurnard (see menu), which was previously made with smoked mackerel. The size of the portions is notable for being more substantial than the average tasting menu, but far from overwhelming.
"The tasting menu goes from a nice vegetable starter that's quite light, to the foie gras, which is a bit more protein-heavy. Then there's the fish, which is again quite light and the crisp apple is refreshing. After that, it's the beef followed by dessert, which is half the size of the Á la carte version," Jones says.
A vegetarian tasting menu is also available and proving to be popular with diners. Jones adds: "I worked in hotels at the start of my career and learned to be accommodating and honest. It's not about my ego; it's about making nice food and your guests happy."
From the menu
Tasting menu £49.50 or £85 with matching wines
- Salt-baked beetroot with almond milk panna cotta and balsamic vinegar
- Sautéed foie gras with pineapple chutney and spiced bread
- Darjeeling tea-smoked gurnard with apple salad, crispy shallots and burnt leek dressing
- Roasted Rose County fillet steak, charred confit shallot, celeriac remoulade, Anna potatoes and truffled butter sauce
- Mango and passion fruit cheesecake, jelly and sorbet
23-25 Leadenhall Market
London, EC3V 1LR