Yes, London is a city, but then within that there is ‘The City’. Known as “Londinium”, the Romans established a settlement on the current site of the City of London around AD 43. By the late 16th century, London had become a major centre for banking and trade. The Royal Exchange here was founded in 1565 by Sir Thomas Gresham as a centre of commerce for merchants. The Bank of England moved to its present site in 1734, opposite the Royal Exchange on Threadneedle Street. It’s just a few steps from here that we found another trading house, but this one has its focus on food!
The Trading House is a bar and restaurant housed in a Grade II-listed building which was formerly the Bank of New Zealand. You could easily miss it, sporting only a brace of anonymous doors. But the interior is impressive, opulent, striking and quirky. The ceilings are trimmed with ornamental coving and plasterwork. There is dark panelling aplenty, along with shelves laden with what would appear to be souvenirs collected by a well-travelled Victorian gentleman.
The menu is eclectic and long
We arrived for an early dinner at 5 o’clock and the bar was already buzzing. That should perhaps be BUZZING as groups were already loud. The volume would probably be less at lunchtime when the young bankers are mindful of a return to work.
The dining room was a little quieter and at this early hour we had the place to ourselves. The tables have a rather stylish reading lamp, and a caddy with drinks list and cutlery. The food menu is eclectic and long. There is something for every taste and the prices of all items are reasonable.
We began with cocktails. Mine was a refreshing Treasure Fleet made with Tanqueray gin, elderflower liqueur, apple juice, cucumber, fresh mint and lime. I am not a lover of elderflower but there was only a hint of this. The cucumber was not just a garnish but actually added to the flavour.
Another amusing libation was By Royal Charter. No, that’s not a regal command but the name of a pale and frothy cocktail of Brackman’s blueberry gin, green apple liqueur, rhubarb bitters, and fresh blueberries served with a couple of retro rhubarb and custard sweeties.
My guest’s starter was Aubergine, Cream Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Fritters served with lemon and rosemary honey, rocket and pine nut salad. This was a substantial plate of three fritters which were mercifully not too greasy, as is the flaw of many an aubergine preparation. This tasted as good as it looked.
My first course was Rotisserie Pork and Black Pudding Fritters with apple and fig ketchup and served with home-made piccalilli. The meat was light and the coating had great crunch. These should really be described as rissoles rather than fritters.
Truly a full dinner
My companion’s main dish was an ample plate of Roast Lamb cooked with Moroccan spices, and served with bulgur wheat, chickpeas, apricots, pomegranate and toasted almonds, with cucumber and mint yoghurt. This is described as a salad but this dish was truly a full dinner. The meat was melting, and the dressing was perfectly balanced. If this is a sample of a Trading House salad, then this might constitute my next lunch in the City. Excellent value for money.
I had to try a celebrated Hanging Kebab. I chose chicken and it didn’t disappoint. A dangling skewer of meat mopped with sweet chilli and ginger, served under a little bowl of garlic butter and over a generous helping of House Chips with truffle, garlic, rosemary and Berkswell cheese. A simple meal of chicken and chips but done well.
Bourbon Pecan Pie with vanilla ice cream and cola syrup was our shared dessert. This was pronounced as a winner by my hollow-legged chum who still had a little room left after his worthy meal. This was a sweet confection, and rich.
The Trading House is my style of restaurant. It has a great location, it has memorable architecture and décor, along with some rather fine live music. But it’s the food that will likely encourage a return.
Monday 12:00 noon – 12:00am
Tuesday 12:00 noon – 12:00am
Wednesday 12:00 noon – 12:00am
Thursday 12:00 noon – 01:00am
Friday 12:00 noon – 02:00am
The Trading House
89-91 Gresham Street
Phone: 020 7600 5050