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A neighbourhood spot from a pair who first met at Mayfair restaurant The Square.
This is the neighbourhood restaurant of Pimlico’s dreams. Elegant enough for its mature Sloanes, stylish enough for the yuppies. And with food and wine as swish as the decor. Behind all this loveliness are a sommelier (Katie Exton) and a chef (Peter Hall) who met at ultra-polished restaurant The Square during its glory days.
If you’re here for an informal bite, head for the airy front bar, sit at the marble counter and bury your face in foliage. At the back, the dining room is more formal, but still feminine and cosy. The look here is Scandi meets country: ash-blond woods, farmhouse seats, chic fabrics in neutral tones.
The smart, skilfully cooked modern European food is a similar mix: good-looking but unfussy. The best was a starter of smoked eel with an array of delicate counterpoints: slivers of distinctive ‘meat’ radish (texture), curls of pear (perfume), blades of oyster leaf (subtle saline) and so on. Best of all, there was plenty of it. No one likes a meanie.
Then there was a faultless fillet of cod, its flakes slipping down like kids on a waterslide. Pan-fried and golden, it was balanced on top of a pile of firm, starchy coco beans, with just a touch of heat (a modest slick of ’nduja oil) and just a touch of sweet (skinned and super-ripe datterini tomatoes). Or later, a chocolate crémeux – somewhere between a heavy mousse and a ganache – with raspberry coulis, fresh raspberries and a still-warm, just-made granola bar. If you’re thinking that none of this sounds massively cutting-edge, you’re right. Fashionable ingredients may be sprinkled here and there but at its core, Lorne aims to be classic. It’s the kind of place where the special is a bacon-wrapped grouse. (Didn’t order it, wish I had).
Do definitely order some wine. Exton, a young sommelier so savvy but welcoming that I find myself with a bit of a girl-crush, is constantly on hand, making everyone feel completely at home. Her passion is infectious, her knowledge inspiring and she’s not in the least bit intimidating. Just put yourself in her capable hands and prepare to lose surrender to a glass or ten of the vinous stuff.
The only caveat? Service on my (Saturday night) visit, though supremely pleasant, was a tad slow and seemed stretched. Lorne is also on the pricy side for a neighbourhood restaurant, even if that neighbourhood happens to be Pimlico. Still, these are minor niggles for what is without doubt the best new place in the area.
76 Wilton Rd
|Price:||Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £115|
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