When Apex Hotels, which is based mainly in Scotland, opened this offshoot in London, Tom Illic was brought in to head the restaurant. However, Illic left to open his own place shortly afterwards, and the original aspirations were considerably downscaled. The formal dining area at the rear of the restaurant is now only used for breakfast by the residents. So we’re left with a gastro-bar on the mezzanine floor and this glossy brasserie. Dining takes place in a light-washed space with floor-to-ceiling windows. The sociable atmosphere can be a draw, especially in warm weather when tables stretch on to the pavement. The design is modern, with oak panelling and granite flooring brightened by cream leather and splashes of colourful artwork. Food is straightforward and somewhat lacking in ambition, evidenced by chicken caesar salad as well as burger and fries. A few twists on familiar classics do appear, however, such as chocolate fondant served with Ovaltine ice-cream. Prices are fair, although there’s no longer a fixed-priced lunch. We enjoyed the wild boar scotch egg, its runny yolk a good match for the mustard mayonnaise. Such dishes – perfect for a quick lunch – underscore the restaurant’s drive towards simplicity. Main courses cover a similar gamut of expertise. Roast loin of rabbit wrapped with pancetta and stuffed with black olives came with braised leeks and a fried polenta cake; the flavours were a little evanescent, the impact fizzing out too quickly. Frozen pistachio parfait with black cherry sorbet made a vividly coloured and pleasant end to the meal. Service was keen and friendly. The wine list, starting at £18, has an obvious French accent and spans a wide price spectrum, with plenty of choice by the glass and half-bottle.
Apex City of London Hotel, 1 Seething Lane
|Opening hours:||Lunch served noon-2.30pm, dinner served 6-9.30pm Mon-Fri.|
|Transport:||Tube: Tower Hill tube|
|Price:||Main courses £15-£20.|
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