Tucked down one of the curiously charming lanes by Liverpool Street, La Tagliata is weird blend of quirky and corporate that’s bizarrely appropriate for the heart of the city. The restaurant itself is split into a maze of different rooms, each with distinct names. Apparently it’s meant to echo the feel of an Italian villa, but really it’s to cater to big parties, since each space can be booked privately. A wall covered with string instruments dominates the main room, and gives you an idea of what to expect throughout the rest of the space. If the decor’s a bit out there, and the clientele’s as corporate as they come, the food couldn’t be simpler – and that’s a good thing. Start with a deliciously fresh pasta – you can top it off with pesto, tomato or a zesty lemon source – and then move onto the Tagliata, an Italian beef salad that is just to die for (veggies can go for baked scamorza). That’s basically all the choice there is and price depends purely on how many courses you have. Simples.
Foxlow is from the guys behind Hawksmoor. Aha, you’re probably thinking, I know the drill: big hunksa meat at big prices, washed down by high-class cocktails. Well yes, that does about cover it. Sort of. Foxlow is kind of like a Hawksmoor-lite. You’ve still got on-trend tiling on the walls and plush booths, but the light’s a bit brighter and it feels a bit less like you’re sitting in a bar in the middle of the day. Hell, there’s even a salad bar, sort of and more affordable(ish) slow-cooked ribs have usurped steak on the menu. If you think you’re getting bargain-Hawksmoor though, think again. £16 for a (really excellent) bit of rib sounds reasonable, but that’s literally all you’re getting. Factor in the sides and the bill mounts quickly.
Diciannove is a very nice Italian restaurant. Situated just by Blackfriars, it’s a delightful spot to dine in the middle of a culinary wasteland. What really makes this place stand out though is its truly great gluten-free offering. Anyone who’s ever tried to go for Italian with a coeliac will know the longing looks at the carb-packed dishes most of us can scoff down without a second thought. Here, everyone gets to tuck in. Diciannove serves faultless chestnut papardelle, lighter than light pumpkin risotto and loads more gluten-free dishes to city-based coeliacs and those on fad diets. The whole thing is overseen by executive chef Alessandro Bay, a Locatelli protege who keeps standards up to par. Unusually for a city restaurant, this place even packs out on the weekend. The quality of the food here is the real draw (the spectacular view over the river by night is a close second). Packed with suits during the week, this is the perfect destination for a business lunch in an area full of well, not much really. Don’t expect a pumping atmosphere – the feel here is ‘comfortable corporate’ and lets be honest, its always better when you can stick it on expenses.
Hidden behind the food van funfare on Whitecross Street, this dinky delhi-cum-restaurant serves up the best veggie dishes in the City. Think hearty salads topped with oodles of haloumi and deep dishes of lentil and chickpea curry that are both filling and satisfying. The titchy place is a bit Spartan, filled with little more than a handful of wooden tables, but the service is friendly and there is an adorable though miniature outdoor area for the rare occasions when the sun shines. Portions are big but at around 12 pounds a pop for a plate of veg it still feels a touch steep. Special offers at lunchtime make for a more reasonable meal though.
A class above the average city lunch venue, this modern Italian restaurant in the Liverpool Street area is a breath of fresh air for the white collar set. The décor is perhaps a little bit aggressive in its modernity, what with the blinding whiteness of the furnishings, the place is still light, airy and perennially buzzy – a real break from the stuffiness of many of the older city establishments. The prices will make anyone without a corporate bank account cringe, but that’s not a problem for most of the suited clientele that pack this place at lunchtimes and it’s hardly surprising they keep coming back for the fantastic and fresh Italian fair. Cooking is mainly southern Italian; expect the home-made pastas to be paired with light, tomato-based sauces rather than rich, creamy ones. It’s super-tasty, but light and unfulfilling which means it’s easy to run up a hefty bill, or leave hungry. Find someone in Saville Row with a charge account and you’ll be fine though.
Shiny and new, Angler is city slick and even cool in a corporate kinda way. You know the type, super-tasteful neutral tones with the odd zing of pattern to give a little bit of an edge. Yes, we know how to live dangerously. There’s even a very pleasant terrace for outdoor dining in the summer. Permanently packed with well-dressed city types, after something a bit lighter than a giant slab of meat, the menu is fish based and very good, even if portions are a little on the small side. On the upside, that does mean there’ll be room for the rather superior desserts. You just had fish, indulge a little. Then head downstairs to the bar and do it a little more.