"Dine in the banking glory of yesteryear in the heart of the City"Review Rating: Reviewed by KimT
This is just what the City of London needed. A fabulous new – well sort of – place where you can drink, dine and even relax in a spa. There are an astonishing nine restaurants – including counters for fast, lone dining – in 3,000 square metres of former banking hall and all within a stone’s throw from Bank tube station. There’s also a private members club.
I went along yesterday lunchtime with an editor pal. I couldn’t believe I had missed the discrete entrance as I had walked past it to meet her. As you pass through the doors it’s like walking back in time. So many of the listed features of the building have been preserved – the great green malachite columns, the art deco pendulum light fittings and even whole wooden banking counters – now converted into either bars or music stands. It’s vast and breath-taking. Yet still relaxed and welcoming.
In the first hall there are vast white counters – against which hundreds of people were enjoying their lunch, many on their own but a good few in couples and groups. Then through a reception area – near the original lifts – and into more interconnected dining areas each offering food from different parts of the world. It’s comfy and classy. And utterly British. The place was heaving – where did all these people come from?
We settled in some comfortable chairs at a small table near a bar in Millie’s Lounge. A British area. The menu offered fish and chips, burgers, lamb as well, mince and mash, sausages and seafood. Each day has a theme too – I will be returning on a Saturday to sample the kedgeree which is one of my favourites.
The service was lively and relaxed. Having similar tastes we both choose the Dorset crab (£12) – which arrived with crackers and picks – and proved to be a really interactive experience as we dug out the delicate crabmeat. We’d ordered sides of fries (£5) too. Our glass of Sauvignon Blanc (£9.50) was perfectly chilled and delicious. My rhubarb fool (£7) was a triumph – chunks of the fruit in a firm cream base and topped with tangy orange shreds. I donated my shortbread to my companion as she worked through her cherry upside-down cake (£7).
My companion urged me to visit the loos downstairs. Here you pass an interesting private space that you enter through the enormous circular safe vault. I’m told it was used in the James Bond Goldfinger movie. The banking hall here was also used in Mary Poppins. The entrance to the spa is here as well. Even the loos were an experience – another beautiful restoration – and with lovely touches like the three person love seat.
It’s a masterpiece of careful and innovative restoration. No doubt it will become a regular haunt for me – whether for formal business lunches or informal gatherings with friends. And my international visitors are going to love it.
KimT reviewed Millie's Lounge on Tue 08 Aug 2017