A new next door neighbour for Deutsche Bank and across the road from RBS, the ever-reliable All Bar One is already packing in the suits, and if you pop at lunchtime or in the early evening, expect it to be absolutely heaving.
The latest member of the All Bar One group, a high street chain (owned by Mitchell & Butlers) with sites nationwide, sits in a slightly obscured position, set back as it is from the main Bishopsgate thoroughfare. Inside, it has eye-catching design features like the pyramid of wine bottles stacked high in glass display cabinets and a chandelier embellished with dangling wine glasses. Upstairs, a more discreet space houses the open-plan kitchen and the tables here provide a much-needed sanctuary from the melee below.
Enter on a Thursday or Friday evening and you will be met with a wall of noise as ties are loosened, corks are popped and local professionals let off steam like a hyperactive geyser. At off-peak times, there's plenty of room to hold a meeting or enjoy a couple of drinks.
Food is of a respectable standard. Rather than settle for deep frying everything in sight, they’ve created a menu that uses some interesting ingredients and they clearly want to offer food that’s better than the average chain.
A starter, or small plate as it’s described on the menu, of goats’s cheese (£5.45) embossed with a spicy prickly coating is served with sliced mango and watercress salad and it's an interesting combination that works well. Alternatively a spiced fruit falafel (£3.95) with a mild harissa crème freche again shows off the globally-inspired menu. Quality is good; portion sizes are large.
Mains offer steaks and fish and chips, albeit tarted up versions, with British classics like the All Bar One cottage pie (£8.95) infused with cinnamon, cardamom and clove, a little too vigorously, if truth be told, as the seasoning becomes overpowering. A lamb shank (£12.45) is the most enjoyable dish of the sitting, the meat slipping off the bone once you give it even the most subtle encouragement. Again a spice (cumin) is employed to give the dish an extra pep but the mint gravy is too oily.
Desserts offer anything from a scoop of ice cream and an espresso (£1.95) to a warm and gooey chocolate fudge brownie (£4.95).
Rarities like Brooklyn lager are on offer in bottles, as well as astute draught selections such as Estrella Damm and Doom Bar ale. Cocktails use everything from commercial brands to premium spirits – you can even have a rum punch courtesy of Mahiki rum. The wine list offers some good value and it’s divided up into Good, Great and Best, with a bottle of Morellino Romitorio (£18.95 a bottle) offering a blast of Italian sangiovese-style goodness.
The Last Word
Decent value, above-average food and drink, and a prominent location in the City – All Bar One is nailed on to be a regular haunt for local professionals.