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Alas poor Novelli

The Royal Exchange

…we knew him so well.

Underneath the Capital Club in London used to be one of the City’s better kept secrets: Novelli in the City. Sadly it is no more. I took my good friends Alex and Derv there to celebrate the announcement of their engagement expecting a good feed. It was always going to be a bit of a risk as when I had initially phoned the restaurant had been fully booked. They also told me that it was no longer a Novelli restaurant, but that the food was the same. Disappointed, I booked elsewhere. On the morning of the meal I got a call from the Capital Club telling me that they had had a cancellation and would I like to take a table. I said yes and cancelled the alternative.

The evening started well as we managed to get a table at the Royal Exchange (unheard of at 6:30pm on a Friday night particularly as Christmas is just round the corner) for a pre-dinner bottle of 2004 Sancerre. This bar is one of my favourites: the staff are always friendly but not too attentive and the location is fantastic. I have spent many a fond evening there.

Happily warmed up we walked the short distance to Abchurch Lane, left our coats at the front desk of the restaurant and took ourselves downstairs to the restaurant which, at first glance, had not changed at all.

Unfortunately the front desk had been misinformed when they told me that the food had not changed: it has. The Fois Gras starter was dull and lifeless – although the texture was just right – and the steak was good and cooked to order but it was nowhere near the heavenly, perfectly cooked steak that I have had there in the past. I have been known, in my more effusive moments, to describe the steak that I had at Novelli’s as ‘the best steak in London’. This is no longer the case – I think that that honour currently goes to Mon Plaisir, although I am always searching. Derv’s Scallops were good but not numerous and could have done with something more to them.

Finally, the puddings: Novelli’s deserts were amazing. I have seen girls tremble at the knee at the memory of his chocolate platter. These no longer exist. The desert selection is sadly reduced and there is nothing on it which particularly inspires.

So, we paid up (the restaurant is still reasonably priced for it’s location) and we went to 1 Lombard Street where I toasted what was Novelli in the City with their excellent Belvedere Vodka Martinis.

RIP Novelli in the City – what has replaced it isn’t bad per se, it just isn’t as good.

The photo is of the bar at the Royal Exchange and is © Toby Bryans 2006

Published on 2006/12/03 at 13:29 by Toby, tags , , , ,

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