Lorne opened in February 2017 in Wilton Road, a short walk from Victoria Railway Station and a few doors along from A. Wong. Peter Hall, the head chef, previously worked at Brawn for a year and also at Benu for a year after a longer stint at The Square. Co-founder Katie Exton presides over the wine offering, having worked for several years at both The River Café and Chez Bruce. The restaurant name, incidentally, has no particular meaning other than being a town in Victoria, Australia. The restaurant can seat up to 42 diners, and has a section with bar stools leading into a main dining area. The menu is firmly in modern British territory. Sourdough bread was from the Flourish bakery, one of London’s better bread providers.
The wine list had almost two hundred references, ranging in price from £22 to £240. Examples were Fleur de Thénac Rouge, Château Thenac 2012 at £25 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £10, the excellent Riesling Kabinett Abtsberg Maximin Grünhäuser 2013 at £46 compared to its retail price of £14, and Chardonnay Three Oaks By Farr 2013 at £80 for a wine that will set you back £43 in a shop. At the prestige end of the list, Brunello La Casa Carpazo 2010 was £120 compared to its retail price of £92, and Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage 2011 was £240 for a wine whose current market value is £197. As can be seen, the list is modestly marked up, especially at the high end, by the admittedly demanding standards of London.
The menu is a conventional one, though we actually opted for three starter courses each rather than a starter and main course. Celeriac veloute had at its centre a little pile of smoked haddock, Jersey Royals and tobiko (flying fish roe). The soup had unusually intense flavour, the contrast of the fish and the earthiness of the celeriac and potatoes being an effective combination, along with precise seasoning to make this an excellent way to start the meal (15/20). Pork terrine came with pistachio, mustard, turnip and a salad of apple and sorrel. The terrine had good texture and the apple in particular provided the acidity to balance the richness of the pork, the mustard nicely lifting the flavour (14/20).
White and green asparagus came with rocket and artichoke, pear, rocket and cashew nuts. The asparagus itself was quite good, though compared to the asparagus I ate recently in Japan it was nothing special, though it was nicely cooked. However the accompaniments worked well, the artichoke good and the pear and rocket fresh and pleasing companion flavours for the asparagus (14/20). Quail came with yam, barley and butternut squash puree. The bird was accurately cooked, and the texture of the barley was a pleasant foil for the quail meat; the yam and squash were an interesting contrast of flavours to balance the quail (14/20).
Calf sweetbread came with thyme, borlotti beans and St Georges mushrooms. The sweetbread had delicate texture and was carefully cooked, the beans and mushrooms going well with it and the thyme providing an aromatic contrast (15/20). Pea mousse with brown shrimps, radish and preserved lemon was a clever combination. The peas had very good flavour, and the shrimps were an excellent accompaniment, the acidity of the lemon bringing freshness to the dish (16/20).
For dessert, Arctic roll with strawberries was lovely, the strawberries having good flavour and coming with a strawberry sorbet, the roll itself having good sponge and further strawberry flavour from the jam (15/20). Chocolate cremeux with passion fruit and honeycomb was also enjoyable, the passion fruit’s acidity balancing the richness of the chocolate, the honeycomb adding a contrasting texture (14/20). The coffee was from Monmouth coffee in Covent Garden, which for many years has been one of London’s top coffee suppliers.
Service was charming, our Ukranian waitress Svetlana being attentive and friendly. The bill for two came to £194 so £97 a head with an excellent German Riesling. If you ordered a more modest wine then a typical cost per head might be around £80. This seems fair to me given the quality of the cooking and indeed the overall customer experience.