Love London

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that those working in the City and its surrounds are rarely afforded the luxury of an actual hour’s lunch break. If however you’re one of the lucky ones, I shall let you in on a little secret.

Nestled in the arches underneath the Royal Exchange lies The Libertine, a bar and restaurant steeped in hedonism and mischief, given it sits on the site where the very first royal alcohol licence in Britain was granted. The bustle and opportunity around the old Royal Exchange, built in 1571, attracted merchants and rogues who, once the day’s work was complete, would descend to the vaults for a ‘tippling’.

While it’s all a bit more above board these days, the location and set up does still give an air of something a little naughty, particularly when slipping away from the office for a luncheon and escaping the busyness of what’s going on above ground.

Visiting on a Tuesday lunchtime it was packed, a really buzzy din - I was the only solo diner in what was clearly a dining room full of working lunches. Visiting during British Pie Week there was really only one menu choice for my main, though to start I plumped for the coquille St Jacques; a trio of plump juicy scallops in garlic butter crumb; the visit was worth it for those alone to be honest. What a treat.

A fat golden pie arrived with a hearty blob of creamy mash, plentiful gravy and a side of veg. Its filling was a warming chicken, leek and bacon - just the ticket for a cold February day - and tasted deliciously homemade though with the refined polish one would expect from a city establishment. Perfect. Sampling the strawberry and pistachio posset for pudding, my only complaint would be that it wasn’t really a posset; more a bowl of cream with strawberries and pistachio, hardly a grave error (and if anything even more indulgently delicious…) but not quite what it said on the tin.

Service was a little slow at times, but perhaps only as I was clock watching to get back to work. Nevertheless, despite the din of the dining room I managed to be in and our with a three course lunch under my (now somewhat tighter…) belt in a swift hour. Not bad for making the most of the lunch break.

The Libertine, 1a Royal Exchange, Cornhill, London, EC3V 3LL

Posted Date
Mar 31, 2024 in Love London by Laurel