A financial centre for over 450 years, the Royal Exchange is now a mechanism for parting City folk from their bonuses, inhabited by top-end shops and dominated by the Grand Café, which spreads expansively over two floors, alongside its formal French sister restaurant Sauterelle. The ground-floor café occupies the central courtyard of the Grade I listed building; half the pleasure of stopping here is for the views it affords of the grand galleries. A striking central bar and a bevy of pinstriped and black-aproned staff create an illusion of swish continental efficiency, but an illusion it is: service is a tad random, and it can be hard to order quickly, particularly as there aren’t any menus on the tables. The menu lists rich persons’ snack food: gourmet sandwiches (up to £17.50 for lobster and avocado brioche); seafood and steak, and some appealing seasonal dishes (salmon with samphire; an OK gazpacho). All this was going down well with the suited crowd on our visit, so we must assume our cloying lasagna vinci grassi was an anomaly – though we’d suggest that summer truffles are best not used in thick scales covering a cheesy crust. Still, a cocktail in the bar upstairs cheered us up.
Royal Exchange Grand Café & Bar
|Venue name:||Royal Exchange Grand Café & Bar||Contact:|
The Royal Exchange
|Opening hours:||Breakfast served 8-11am, meals served noon-10pm Mon-Fri.|
|Transport:||Tube: Bank tube/DLR|
|Price:||Main courses £6.50-£19.|