The Royal Exchange, opened by Queen Elizabeth I in 1571, is one of London’s landmark venues and seen as an emblem of the UK’s financial scene.
But did you know there’s a bar and restaurant inside?
The dining venue is now run by the Queen’s purveyor of fine foods, Fortnum & Mason, and it makes for the most magical setting.
Stepping inside the porticoed building, the innards are equally impressive, with gawping ceilings, low lights, chunky pieces of masonry and soothing acoustics.
I ventured to the The Fortnum’s Bar & Restaurant at The Royal Exchange on a Monday evening. With the rain pitter pattering outside, its warm embrace was most welcome.
It was surprisingly quiet, and it felt as if we had private hire for the night as we were shown to a cosy corner table.
We were early at 7pm and it gradually filled out, but the table spacing meant it still maintained a private feel.
The menu changes throughout the year making use of the freshest ingredients, and it’s currently moving through the game shooting (grouse, pheasant etc) and truffle season.
We kicked things off, as one should in such a magnificent venue, with a glass of Fortnum’s refreshingly floral Blanc de Blancs.
An equally as fitting follow up proved to be half a dozen oysters with the selection featuring some meaty specimens from Scotland and some plump imports from Ireland.
To accompany the morsels there was some lemon, Tabasco and shallot dressing, plus several slices of deliciously dense soda bread with seaweed butter.
Moving to mains, fish is what Fortnum’s does best and my companion went for Dover sole (on the bone), the with a portion of creamed spinach and a side salad.
Looking for something on the vegetarian front, I plumped for the miso glazed aubergine.
The fish was perfectly cooked and the aubergine was artfully presented and as equally as artful on the tongue with the flavours well balanced.
Cashew and yuzu yogurt providing a creamy base to the roasted veg, with some raw carrot and radish for a bit of crunch. The portion sizing was also spot on.
I’m a martini lady, and the Fortnum’s Gresham’s special (named in honour of the merchant Sir Thomas Gresham who founded The Royal Exchange in the 16th century) gets a big thumbs up. The gin, Lillet Blanc and Oloroso Sherry concoction has a sweet but clean taste, with a good punchy finish. Highly recommended!
To finish things of in true indulgence, I steer you in the sweet direction of the knickerbocker glory.
This decadent dessert features an oozing blend of ice cream, raspberry coulis and meringue. The perfect pudding to share.
Taking things to a whole new level, you can opt for some shavings of white truffle as alternative to the cherry on top.
As our friendly host joked, truffle just about pairs with anything, and with the creamy topping of the knickerbocker glory, I couldn’t get enough…
If you want an extra dose of sweetness, Fortnums does an extremely delicious Pedro Ximénez which has a rich black treacle colour and gloopy texture.
We left the venue in fine spirits. A trip to the place definitely makes for a royally good night out. I could swap out a cherry for a shaving of truffle any night…
The Fortnum’s Bar & Restaurant at The Royal Exchange is located at The Courtyard, The Royal Exchange, London. EC3V 3LR
To book a table call 020 7734 8040 or visit www.fortnumandmason.com