Three Cranes is a compact, attractive boozer that sits on a City backstreet near Mansion House, with a kitchen recently taken over by Racine mastermind Henry Harris. The restaurant itself is a small, attractively Farrow-&-Ball’d upstairs dining room with an artsy Edwardian vibe, while the menu is tiny and meat-heavy – split squarely between simple collages of decent ingredients and aged chops off the grill, all with a nod to the St John school of pared-back Britishness. First up, a plate of bitter leaves, knobbly bacon lardons and little slabs of smoked eel, strung with a creamy dressing. Salty, sure, but muscular as hell for something so modest. Less effective were the tomatoes on toast, which weren’t baked long enough to reach prime softness.
Next, the house cheeseburger seemed like a decent litmus test. An excellently pink and deeply flavoured patty in a chewy bun saw it pass, and topping it with raclette elevated it to subtle genius, even with the mad inclusion of chopped yellow pepper. Three Cranes’ beef is, they state, dry-aged for up to 35 days. This was more than evident in a beautifully charred, dry-aged strip of onglet, brought to full gutsiness by a knob of anchovy butter.
Puds were equally good: a cup of apple sorbet – served with a shot of calvados – was simultaneously warming and refreshing. Service was beyond genial, and while the cost crept towards wallet-dusting prices, it all felt like excellent value. In a sea of macho City joints and faceless, suit-filled pubs, the Three Cranes is a brilliant little bolthole.