With sensational design and an extensive wine list, Devonshire Terrace looks set to be a popular choice for City workers. It’s just a shame the food doesn’t quite live up to expectations.
The Devonshire Terrace is undoubtedly an impressive venue, boasting an impeccable use of space that fits the Bauhaus design spec perfectly. Two equally impressive outside areas are great choices (if you can get a seat), with one enjoying a sumptuously choreographed view of the Gherkin, visible via a high glass ceiling, and the other offering the feel of continental al fresco dining, even if the view is only of the corporate world of Devonshire Square. Inside plays host to immaculately positioned lines of tables that lead to an open kitchen and a stylish bar, flanked by private dining rooms with Japanese sliding doors. It’s certainly a very impressive introduction, and when it’s this easily visible to the hordes of City folk passing by, it works well as a sumptuously enticing visage.
Boasting a location that’s just about perfect to attract City workers, it’s pretty clear the types who are likely to be seated next to you. There’s a nice sense of exclusivity that no doubt keeps the suits happy, given that Devonshire Square is a nicely secluded enclave, hidden from the less attractive areas of the City. Although this is certainly a boon, and a good selling point for a restaurant like this, the somewhat precious attitude of the burly doormen manfully guarding the Square’s entrance can come across as a little unnecessary. However, the staff inside the restaurant itself are, for the most part, courteous and efficient, and relatively up to speed on what’s on offer. The general atmosphere is relaxed and informal, especially on the terraces, with a design that’s orchestrated well enough for tables to feel nicely intimate.
With such an emphasis on what’s a very appealing design, it’s a real shame that at times the food doesn’t quite live up to expectation. Starters are okay, the best being a rich foie gras (£9.25) that’s nicely paired with a delicately toasted brioche and sweet plum chutney, followed closely by a superbly prepared, if slightly bland, grilled asparagus with poached egg and truffle vinaigrette (£6.95). Equally well prepared is one of the mains, the plump, fresh tiger prawns which go well with a lime and chilli dressing and some deliciously al dente red rice, yet they remain a little disappointing for the price of £14.50.
Even more disappointing is the sirloin of black Angus beef (£14.95) that appears to be suitably medium rare, but which doesn’t take to the knife. Instead of it sliding through the medium rare meat it’s forced to hack and tear, causing the flesh to fray and suggesting either a poor cut, or poor preparation. Even some tasty fries and a very well balanced grain mustard jus can’t rescue it, though on the up side it does enable you to leave more room for some very fine desserts. The best of these is an impeccable chocolate fondant (£5.50) that’s beautifully textured on the outside, deliciously runny on the inside, and served with a very complementary honeycomb ice cream.
The Devonshire Terrace has an enormous wine list, a list which only a cynic would suggest was to take advantage of the fat wallets bouncing through the door. There’s a whole host available by the glass, with prices being more than acceptable for decent options such as the Devonshire Terrace house red (£14) that’s light and fruity and with surprisingly good legs. If you’re looking to spend a little more then you can certainly do so, with a bizarrely priced 1995 Clos d’Ambonney at £3,333 offering the perfect opportunity for a little ostentatious showboating. More reasonable options include an excellent couple of Bugundys and a superb New Zealand Suavignon Blanc, on what’s a well thought out, if at times overwhelming wine list.
Cocktails are good, and not unreasonable, with classics like the Rob Roy and the Woodford Sour (about £7) nicely complemented by some great house options, such as the fruity, sweet and moreish Devonshiretini (£8.50) or the Devonshire Sling (£7), a nice take on the Singaporean classic. The cocktails benefit from a superb list of spirits that offer an impressive choice, and the bar staff seem more than capable of helping you out, lest you get confused.
The Last Word
The magnificence of the venue can’t be argued with but the food unfortunately can be. But whatever its shortcomings, Devonshire Terrace is sure to be a hit thanks to a great location and an incredibly enticing design.