Restaurant Review: The Trading House, St Pauls in London
Walking up to the Trading House on a first visit, it was easy to spot from the crowd of people outside. Stepping in, it was equally busy with a large and striking bar taking centre stage within a grand hall of a room.
Opened just five months ago in the City of London, the restaurant occupies the Grade-II listed former Bank of New Zealand. An impressive setting, with a new found lease of life, the Trading House is themed in adventurous colonial style. Think stuffed zebra heads and birds adorning the mahogany walls, leafy palms and pineapple shaped pendants.
A sister restaurant has just opened in Glasgow, with plans for more elsewhere, in similarly splendid former financial buildings.
We were seated in a dining area towards the back which had space for around fifty diners. Up the cast iron spiral staircase a similar number could be accommodated on the mezzanine floor above.
The pretty foxglove lamps on the tables added a sense of intimacy to the evening and there was definitely plenty to peer at with interest. Live music is performed each and every night and this evening we had an acoustic guitar duo who had a fondness for the Foo Fighters.
Looking at the drinks menu you were spoilt for choice – a great selection of gins, cocktails with curious twists, champagnes and wines. My first cocktail was the Strawberry and Cloves long drink, which was fruity and refreshing, but slightly lacked the warmth and spiciness usually associated with clove. The Raspberry Mojito my dining partner had packed a better punch and was well balanced with sour and sweet notes.
For starters, the Scotch egg was served warm with a delicious smidgen of piccalilli. It was nicely set against the astringency of rocket and radicchio, I just could have done with more of that piccalilli. The egg was perfectly cooked in the middle – just set and with a gooeyness that I love. The breadcrumb outer was crisp and the meat filling well-seasoned and flavoursome, though slightly thin.
My dining partner opted for the asparagus soup, which was novelly served in a china mug adorned with the face of Her Majesty. This was a fun touch that suited the surroundings. The soup itself was creamy, well-textured and tasty, though one to avoid if you’re watching your salt intake. The fluffy white bloomer it was served with added some genuine homeliness to the affair.
My next drink was a Peach Melba Bellini, which was suitably bubbly, but my dining companion’s Breakfast Tea-Tini was without doubt the best drink of the night. It had lovely tea-infused notes, spiced cardamom flavours with a dash of orange zest. This was a drink that firmly pronounced its trading roots.
The main courses offered a wide range of choice, which could have been pared down somewhat. Malaysian curry, chicken rotisserie, BBQ and home comfort foods were all present on the menu and such range tends to arouse a little suspicion within me. Sometimes simple is best.
I opted for the 9oz rib eye steak with garlic butter and chips, served with the gem wedge salad side. This was probably the most generous side salad I’ve ever had – four whole gems of lettuce with Caesar-like dressing and crispy bacon bits served on top. It was definitely enough for two!
The steak was well-flavoured and a good cut. My dining partner’s hake with parsley sauce was also delicious. It was very well cooked and the spinach it was served with had a great zesty lemon flavour.
Well and truly stuffed we did make room for something sweet. I had spied the theatrical-looking towering kebab from a fellow diner’s table, so I had to opt for it. Strawberries and marshmallows alternately skewered with warm chocolate sauce dripping from the top added fun spectacle to the evening, but wouldn’t win any prizes in intricacy. I didn’t want any surprises though and this was exactly what it said on the tin. The specially made kebab holding contraptions were a clever touch and were entirely in keeping with the interiors.
The rum baba was enjoyed by my dining partner. Sweet and richly rum-infused it hit the right spot.
To finish off with another round of drinks we opted for a couple of shorts – the Port of Havana and the Orange Cinnamon and Coffee. The Havana short was a better choice – star anise infused rum and port with a squeeze of lime. The Cinnamon and Coffee short definitely woke me up after such generous helpings.
In a nutshell:
The Trading House offers a buzzy post-work vibe with great cocktails, live music and generous food helpings.
Address: 89-91 Gresham Street, London, EC2V 7NQ