The Tokenhouse has a contemporary feel, a modernist laid-back interior and a youngish buzz. Yet it’s operated by one of Britain’s most time-honoured brewers, Fuller’s of Chiswick. This business has thrived since 1655 by constantly adapting to changing times and the Tokenhouse proves how Fuller’s continues to meet present-day City tastes and inclinations.
The Tokenhouse occupies the site of what was formerly Bluu Bar. Its grey stone façade is in the nineteenth-century neoclassical Beaux arts style that was particularly prevalent in the USA. It has Corinthian pilasters, pedimented windows and richly-moulded cornices. The interior is in marked contrast. The large ground floor is modernist and stripped wood provides the flooring. There’s a high ceiling that holds prominent metal rod lighting fittings and the walls are either bare or with mural decoration of past City scenes. To acknowledge the Moorgate location, there’s a small display of City artefacts, including old weighing scales and historic prints. The background music is discreet and there’s no distractions like TVs. The dark brown central bar area is curved and long to give easy access.
The spacious downstairs cellar bar has a cosier and more intimate feel with carpeted and tiled flooring. Lighting is more subdued down here and there are clusters of sofas and tables to enable groups to chat together easily.
In a relatively short space of time the Tokenhouse has attracted a high level of patronage - no easy achievement, given the intensity of much local competition. Lunchtimes tend to attract diners and evenings appeal more to younger groups for drinks and snacks.
Starters include steamed mussels, buffalo mozzarella with heritage tomatoes, and smoked chicken and pancetta terrine. Mains include sesame crusted salmon, rare-breed pork belly with a Calvados sauce, and langoustine risotto. A big seller is rib-eye steak which is deliciously tender. Among the desserts are strawberry parfait and French toast with berry compote. The lunch offering also has sandwiches and salads for those wanting a quick bite. Sharing platters, such as antipasti, are on the menu and, in the evenings, a range of £4 small plates (£11 for three) are much favoured. Pollock goujons, shellfish arancini and mini sausages are included.
Real ale is of course supplied by Fuller’s. There are three handpumps with Chiswick Bitter, London Pride and ESB currently on offer. Lagers include Carlsberg, Heineken and the popular Peroni.
Wine is much favoured. Of the 46 selected, 16 can be bought by the glass. 11 champagnes feature a Vintage Krug for big wins or celebrations.
There’s also an emphasis on premium brands for spirits and liqueurs. Malt whiskies list Glenlivet and Laphroig; vodkas include Finlandia and Grey Goose; among the gins are Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire and Sipsmith from Hammersmith.
The Last Word
A business with roots in the seventeenth century, Fuller’s demonstrates in the Tokenhouse that it is in tune with present-day demands. The venue is inviting, agreeable and has a cheerfulness that can be often missing in the City.