Restaurant Sauterelle, The Royal Exchange, Bank, London, EC3V 3LR Tel: 020 7618 2483 www.restaurantsauterelle.co.uk
The Royal Exchange is a magnificent Victorian edifice. Adjacent to the bank of England, this imposing building boasts a good many high-end boutique-sized outlets, both to the external facade of the building and in the internal hall, set between the magnificent arches. Sauterelle is on a mezzanine floor built immediately above the shops creating a terrace that runs completely around the inner hall of the building. The terrace is quite simply amazing, the beautiful carved stonework ceiling is no more than 10 feet above floor level and the detail is stunning. You’d think that furnishing such an area sympathetically would be difficult, but the simplicity of the modern stylish furnishings works with the incredible architecture perfectly. You can tell that I was blown away by the place, how well it has been maintained and stood the test of time.
Enough of my being star-struck by masonry, on to our meal at this lovely venue, the purpose of our visit, after all. We were seated at our table to one side of an arch, overlooking the central hall, which forms the Grand Cafe – part of the same group – and had a glass of champagne while we studied the menu. When surrounded by opulence, what else do you do? The menu carries some very interesting offerings which, quite naturally, made choosing very difficult. In the end choose we must but we ducked the issue slightly. We chose four starters, followed by one main each. As we waited, drinking in the surroundings, and the Champagne, of course, an amuse bouche arrived. Presented beautifully in a glass angle cut bowl was some truffle cream and leaves over which a Jerusalem artichoke veloute was poured. This dish, one of the set menu options, was rich smooth and full flavoured, the cream and veloute combining to make a lovely mouthful.
Starters arrived, a delicate flavoured Cornish crab raviolo with a lemongrass foam sat on top of some samphire with perfectly cooked seared scallops, it was a delicate but nicely balanced dish which had notes of aniseed from some fennel, all of which came together well in the mouth. The scallop and suckling pig belly was another great dish, the scallops, again, perfectly cooked, the suckling pig, tender with light crisp thin crackling, that was almost like the crust on a crème brulee, a wonderful combination of textures on one piece of meat. These composite parts were accompanied by a scattering of pickled vegetables and a cauliflower cheese cream, it was excellent. The squab pigeon had great flavour, cooked very much on the rare side of medium rare, the breast was firm, but beautifully tender, a reddish pink colour, full flavoured and sat on top of some lovely lightly dressed celeriac remoulade; the leg meat to one side was also lovely and tender, almost melting in the mouth. Accompanied by some muscat grapes and foie gras shavings this was an amazingly good dish. The smoked foie gras was a dramatic creation, placed on the table encased in a glass dome full of smoke, as it was lifted the foie gras was revealed, nicely seared and lightly smoked, with its beautifully soft centre, it was seriously good. This was accompanied by some poached fruits, bacon, toasted hazelnuts and watercress, all of which had taken on a lovely smokiness. These were four amazing, inventive and different dishes, all presented beautifully and a testament to chef Robin Gill’s flair.
We were more reserved with mains – one each. The turbot, which came highly recommended, and lived up entirely to the recommendation, it was a superb piece of fish, cooked perfectly, moistly flaking as it was cut into. Dressed with a lemon foam and sat on top of some puy lentils with squid ink, some red chard and a scattering of sliced razor clam that were cooked nicely al dente, it was an excellent dish. The halibut, equally well recommended was, again, cooked perfectly, great texture and flavour, moist and flaking as it was cut into; this was served with some potato gnocchi, sea greens, pine nuts and a salted grape vierge. It was a great combination of flavours coming together on the palate. The milk-fed lamb was another excellent dish made up from different cuts including kidney, rack, breaded and deep fried sweetbread and rolled shoulder fillet, these all brought together with some butter beans, kalamata olives, a smoked aubergine puree and a salsa verde, with a good jus, an amazingly good combination.
For dessert, we had crème brulee. This was another success the crème sufficiently full bodied to be turned out and stand alone, had great texture and a lovely vanilla flavour, the brulee topping light and crisp and the inclusion of some ‘space dust’ made the whole thing pop and crackle in your mouth, so not only did it taste great it was lively and fun to eat. The crème brulee was accompanied by some toasted orange and some thin ginger biscuit that had a good chilli heat to them, a great finish to a fantastic meal.
We had a range of wines by the glass with the meal, helped by the sommelier in choosing them and they matched the food extremely well. Service at Sauterelle was exceptionally good, mixed with a little theatre which was somehow right for the surroundings and the excellent food of head chef Robin Gill. This is a remarkably good restaurant and definitely one to visit.