Lutyens is a Terence Conran restaurant, which often spells smart design, attention to detail and pleasant but rather ordinary food. However in this location, in the old Reuters building in Fleet Street (the entrance is in fact in St Brides Lane) the formula seems to really work. The large dining room, seating 120 covers, was well lit and had an open kitchen, and was supplemented by three private rooms downstairs and a ground floor bar. There was a mix of banquette seating with pale green upholstery and regular tables, and a cheese cabinet lined with straw adorned one wall. Chef David Berke has previously worked at Pont de la Tour and the Wolseley. The menu covers the range of bistro classics, with 14 starters plus salads and oysters, and offered no less than 18 main courses to choose from.
The wine list is substantial and has some carefully chosen growers, presided over by sommelier Andrew Connor. Hugel Riesling 2007 was £36 compared to a retail price of around £12, the lovely Kistler Dutton Ranch 2006 was £136 compared to a retail price of around £57 if you can find it, while Trimbach Clos St Hune Riesling 2001 was £156 for a wine that will set you back £135 in the shops. Indeed the mark-ups at the high end here are very fair by London standards: Vega Sicilia Unico 1996 was £240 for a wine that costs about £150 to buy, the divine Guigal La Mouline 2000 was £220 compared to a retail rice of around £149, and Guigal La Londonne 1996 was £240 for a wine that will set you back about £161 in the shops. Bread, a choice of baguettes and walnut bread, is supplied by Flour Power (who have an outlet in Borough Market). I preferred the walnut bread to the baguette (14/20 on average).
To begin a pumpkin soup (£7.50) with pumpkin seeds had a deep, full flavour and was nicely seasoned, the pumpkin seeds adding a texture contrast (14/20). Goujons of plaice (£8.50) were well made, with good batter and nice plaice (15/20). From the rotisserie I had Landaise chicken (£17) with sage and onion stuffing, thyme gravy and game chips. The chicken was cooked carefully and was moist, the gravy in particular was rich and unctuous, and the game chips on the side were genuinely excellent and very well seasoned; the only let down was a rather dry and crumbly sage and onion stuffing (15/20). Dover sole was served on the bone and was a high quality fish, nicely timed and served with a little herb butter (15/20). French beans (£3.50) were particularly well cooked (16/20), with pleasant champ (14/20) and chips that were hand-cut and quite crisp (14/20).
For dessert, lemon tart (£6.50) was superb, the pastry good, the filling having a lovely balance (16/20). Blackurrant jelly (£6.50) in itself was very good, served with nice Chantilly cream, but the Madeleines with it were a little soggy (14/20). Coffee was of reasonable quality (14/20). Service throughout was accomplished, with just the odd wine topping-up lapse, and overall I found this a thoroughly enjoyable meal. At £75 a head with a bottle of wine between two this also seemed an acceptable price. I would happily return.
Further reviews: 21st Mar 2014