Urban Coterie

151-157 City Road, London, EC1V 1JH, United Kingdom

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This Shoreditch eaterie opened in November 2015, a collaboration between the Searcys restaurant and catering group, and Anthony Demetre, who set up Arbutus and Wild Honey. It is situated on the 17th floor of the Montcalm Hotel, an unusually angular building that occupies the site of what was once a 1750s brewery.

The kitchen is now headed up by Killian Lynch, who previously worked as chef de cuisine at Sixty One. The menu is modern British, with a set lunch offer at £22 in addition to the à la carte.  The wine list starts at £23 and included labels like Clos du Caillou Cotes du Rhone 2014 at £34 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £9, Remy Gresser Brandhof Pinot Gris 2013 at £52 compared to a retail price of £18, and Clos de l’Oratoire 1995 at £88 for a wine whose retail price is £46. Unsurprisingly given its location near the City, there are a few grander bottles listed too, such as Lynch Bages 1995 at an ambitious £295 for a wine that will set you back £125 in a shop. 

The dining room has a high ceiling and is light and airy, with picture windows looking out from its lofty perch. The view, mostly cranes and office blocks, perhaps does not quite compare to staring out over the azure waters of the Mediterranean, but the architects have to work with what they have. Despite the wooden floor, noise levels seemed moderate.

The very modern building also comes with a rare treat in London: decent Wi-Fi, with a racy 53 Mbps download speed and no need to register your email, home address and detailed life history to actually use it. It also actually worked, something all too few restaurants seem to check. Other London maître d’s, please take note – this is how it should be done. 

Bread is from the capable west London bakery Boulangerie de Paris but is charged at £3.50. We ordered from the set lunch menu, which was a very fair £22 including a glass of prosecco. Confit chicken terrine came on toasted sourdough with a little grapefruit relish. This had plenty of chicken flavour, and the sharp relish meant that the overall effect was not too dry (13/20). Mackerel rillettes had suitably fishy flavour and a hint of citrus freshness, served on a slice of toast with a little avocado and cubes of pineapple, whose acidity was a sensible way to balance the inherent oiliness of the fish (13/20).

Roasted haunch of pork from Cumbria had good depth of flavour, served with tender braised artichoke and excellent and pommes Anna. The latter is a recipe created in the era of Napoleon III by chef Adolphe Duglère and named after famous courtesan Anna Deslion, who became Napoleon III’s mistress. It has layers of potatoes cooked in enough melted butter to provide plenty of work to any passing cardiologist, today’s rendition being suitably rich (14/20). Also pleasant was a rather healthier dish of cod with a stew of young spring vegetables (13/20).

The meal concluded with a mango sorbet, exotic fruit salad with cashew nuts and yoghurt, a combination that proved refreshing and light (13/20). Coffee was from east end supplier Rocket Coffee and was good, rich and with pleasant acidity, served with pleasant petit fours. Service, led by a manager who used to work at Sixty One, was efficient and friendly. The bill, with just mineral water to drink, came to £30 a head. If you came for dinner and shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per person might be around £55 or so. 

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