At 34, I feel I’ve reached an age where I’m spending half my time peering back to my youth and the other half staring at my impending middle-agedness.
While I’d obviously like to go a little bit Benjamin Button and regain some of the extra vigour, vitality and hair of a few years ago, being (or at least acting) a proper grown-up does have its merits.
One of the perks of real-life adulthood is a good working lunch – not the usual pot of Itsu edamame beans at my desk, but something sit-down and surrounded by suits…even with a naughty glass of wine.
Working in the City means I’m not short of choice – many very decent restaurants do a solid short lunch menu, aimed at getting you back to your desk sharpish.
But, as is their style, Zomato gave me a nudge and pointed me in the direction of One Moorgate Place, a smart and spacious restaurant deep inside Chartered Accountants’ Hall, just off Moorgate.
One Moorgate Place has set itself quite a challenge – to offer two courses of stylish-bordering-on-fine-dining within 30 minutes or you eat for free. Oh, and the two courses will come in at just £16!
Of course, you can add a third course (bumping it up to £19 and removing it from the 30-minute deal), but to be fair, if you’re having three-courses at lunchtime on a weekday it’s clear there’s nothing too pressing awaiting you back at the office.
So with this challenge of speed in mind, myself and a good friend from choir (yes I’m a proper geek, get over it) very considerately decided to throw the whole timed lunch challenge straight out of the window and go for the a la carte option instead.
I’m very glad we did!
My natural position on beef is that it is always overcooked, and as such, I opted for the beautifully bright red Carpaccio to begin, sliced wonderfully consistently and with just its very edges seared and brown to the eye. Transparently-thin radishes, sweet pickled baby onions, a shard of crunchy Parmesan and some teeny-tiny micro salad leaves completed the dish.
Opposite me a delicate game terrine with a big old smear of sauce was quickly seen off.
Pork belly continues to grace many a restaurant menu, so it is increasingly a case of the words that come after ‘served with’ that make the difference. And here the winning words were ‘haggis croquettes’. I’d be surprised if at least one person from every table in the restaurant hadn’t ordered this dish, based purely on the moreishness of its description. When this main course arrived, satisfactory noises were certainly emanating from opposite me.
As it was a Friday, I plumped for the cod – in this case, a good old plate of fish’n’chips with mushy peas and tartare sauce. There’s not much I can add in describing what fish and chips is like, but I was deeply impressed by the detail, including the fine, crispy golden batter on the fish and the wedge of lemon tied up in muslin cloth so as to stop the pips escaping onto the plate. Sometimes it really is the little things that make all the difference.
But now, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on pudding. Oh, pudding – so often the runt of the three-course meal, unloved by its kitchen-dwelling parents, chucked on a plate and thrown out for the punters to endure……not here. Pudding at One Moorgate Place is quite a treat – classic British offerings done with aplomb.
Rhubarb crumble with custard ice cream had me licking the stainless steel coating off the spoon and the perfectly cuboid portion of sticky toffee pudding managed an indulgent richness which belied its lightness. To paraphrase Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, terrifically out of context: “One cubic centimetre cured ten gloomy sentiments”.
To finish, let me regain some context. Is it the best food I’ve ever eaten? No, clearly not.
But is this the best working lunch I’ve ever had in London – two courses of which you can enjoy for £16 and be back at your desk after 30 minutes? Oh goodness, yes!
2 Courses for £16 (Starter and Main) – in 30 minutes
3 Courses for £19
Open Monday to Friday only