Northbank isn’t the easiest restaurant to locate, being tucked away underneath the Millenium Bridge on the St Paul’s side. However, this is one hidden gem worth tracking down for countless reasons.
Firstly, you have to admire the jaw-dropping views of Southbank from the restaurant. You can admire the beauty of Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe and the Millenium Bridge. It has a smart yet informal feel to the decor, but the real focus here is on the superb menu presented by their head chef, John Harrison.
Sustainability and seasonality are buzz words on most restaurant menus, but here it is taken seriously with a culinary passion. They actually have a section where they list all the ingredients which are currently in season, whilst they also donate £1 to the National Lobster Hatchery to raise and release a baby lobster back in the wild.
There is a strong Cornish influence throughout the menu with seafood being one of the restaurant’s key selling points. We were offered a very unusual and refreshing Porthilly oyster tempura with oyster emulsion, nasturtium and cucumber. The crunchy texture was hugely enjoyable but I would have preferred even more of the oyster meat. The other starter we tried were earthy Wye Valley Asparagus with a curious garnish of mushroom ketchup and morels. This was combined with a light and fresh goats curd.
The food here is executed with faultless perfection. A Cornish lobster, dill and fennel lasagne are filled with intense flavours as it was served in a flavoursome lobster bisque and shellfish oil. The plump pieces of firm lobster meat highlight the sturdy seafood options on the Cornish coast.
The vegetarian dish of braised baby gem is made much more substantial than typical offerings as it was served with cheddar polenta and cheese croquettes. If that isn’t enough, they have some dreamy side options such as cauliflower and broccoli gratin. The menu is strongly modern British with a slight French twist; no doubt due to the head chef’s inspirations from the likes of Marco Pierre White and Pierre Koffman.
For desserts, they had a very summery green apple and gooseberry crumble soufflé, which was suitably light and fluffy inside. Rhubarb and vanilla strudel resembled a spring roll but was nevertheless well-constructed and not overly sweet.
Having walked past the restaurant on a few occasions, I had the impression it was more of a banker’s restaurant, but during our actual visit, it was welcoming guests from all walks of life from tourists to family groups and of course city workers. The common thread was their shared passion for John’s immense culinary expertise.