Editor's note: in min January 2015 it was announced that Bonds would be replaced by a Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, which is very sad.
Given its location near the Bank of England, the name Bonds is very appropriate. This restaurant, in what used to be a bank building dating back to 1856, is now in a Marriot Autograph hotel and opened in 2002. There is a bar that leads into the main dining area, an impressive high-ceilinged room.
Head chef Steve Smith worked in various London dining rooms including The Oak Room and Orrery, and ran the large team (80 chefs) that served the kitchens at Lords Cricket ground for seven years before moving to Bonds. He was not in the kitchen at this particular service. On the a la carte menu starters were £7 to £14, main courses £16.50 to £32 and desserts £6.50 There was also a set lunch menu at £24 for three courses. The cooking has some original touches and is no way derivative (sorry, couldn't resist).
The wine list started at just £22 and had a quite wide range of selections from countries around the world. Example wines included Leflaive Les Bonneveaux 2010 at £48 for a wine that retails at £21, Silverado Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 at £98 for a wine that will set you back around £29 in a shop, and for any successful City traders wishing to splash out, the glorious 1982 Guigal La Londonne for £550 for a wine that costs around £367, should you be fortunate enough to be able to find it. Bread was from Delice de France, and as usual with this large Southall supplier the loaves were decent but no more.
The dining room is very grand, with attractive flower displays and lots of wood panelling, with white linen tablecloths on the large tables. From the cheap lunch menu, chicken and wild mushroom ballotine was served with figs, pickled enoki mushrooms and a little parsley puree. The hint of vinegar from the mushrooms and the acidity of the figs gave balance to the terrine, which had good texture, although the chicken flavour was quite muted (14/20).
Pork belly was slow-cooked and avoided being too fatty, served on a bed of Savoy cabbage, parsley broth and pork champ potatoes (mash with spring onions, milk and butter), as well as a sauce made from the cooking juices. This was a very enjoyable dish, the cabbage carefully cooked and going well with the pork, the champ having smooth texture (14/20). It seemed a little odd to have parsley again in the same set menu, though the broth tasted fine.
For dessert, mango brulee was topped with diced mango and served with a pair of shortbread biscuits on the side. The brulee was nicely made, having just the right texture, not over sweet and having plenty of mango flavour and a delicate caramelised sugar carapace (15/20).
My bill for lunch, with just water to drink (albeit at a hefty £4.50 a bottle), came to £32 including service. If you came for dinner and had a modest bottle of wine to share then a more realistic bill would be around £70 a head. Overall Bonds offers a quite attractive dining package overall: a genuinely striking room, an appealing menu, carefully prepared food and efficient service.
Further reviews: 01st Jan 2007