At any time of day, one could easily walk past the Perkin Reveller without noticing it. Not only is the exterior understated, but also the building sits in one of the most eye-catching locations in the whole of London. Nestled beneath the northern end of Tower Bridge and just outside the walls of the Tower of London, it could not have chosen two more prominent neighbours. What`s more, reaching across from the south side of the Thames is the striking architecture of City Hall, More London and the Shard.
Luckily for the Perkin Reveller, this is a hub for tourists and there is a very busy footpath, which means there is plenty of passing custom. It was no surprise, then, when we entered to find the restaurant quite full, despite being only six weeks old.
The first thing that struck me was the size of the place, accentuated by the high ceilings and clean, somewhat minimalistic décor. Simple wooden chairs bordered matching tables, most of which seated four and some of which were connected to form longer benches for larger groups. The clientéle was mixed with a few business lunches and a large number of families. By the looks on their faces, the kids were enjoying it as much as everyone else.
It was a reasonable first impression and, having dispensed with our coats, we were showed to our table by a very helpful waitress. Now, I`ve done enough restaurant reviews to know when we`re getting special treatment, but my overall impression at the Perkin Reveller was that the staff were genuinely courteous, efficient, friendly and happy. Could it be because the restaurant is so new, or is it, as I sincerely hope, because they hire and manage their people extremely well? Let`s hope it continues as it`s started.
Anyway – to the food. The style of menu was the kind I like most – between six and eight options in each course (not too many), all of which I liked the sound of. Fortunately for me, I had two colleagues with me, so we could experiment. Matt started safely with the carrot and coriander soup, Nick had whitebait (which I wanted) and I asked for a recommendation from the waitress. I ended up with wood pigeon and rhubarb salad – not something, I must admit, that was on my radar. None of us was disappointed. There are good soups and bad, and Matt was a happy man. He also ordered what turned out to be some truly delicious slices of bread – most of which he had to cede to us (that`ll teach him for banging on about it!). Nick`s whitebait was perfect – nicely cooked, not too fatty and served with a lovely tartare sauce. They were also very easy to share, much to my delight. My duck salad, to my slight surprise, was a true delight. The rhubarb and tangy sauce worked perfectly with the duck breast, all of which was finished nicely with a crisp salad. None of the dishes came in a huge portion, but each was certainly sufficient.
For main course it was Nick`s turn to play it safe. He ordered `Hanger Steak and Chips`, priced at £12.75 (at least he was brave enough to order it rare). Matt, who was sticking to the set lunch menu (priced at £15 for two courses or £18 for three), went with fish and chips – spurred on by the next table, who had already tucked eagerly into it minutes before we ordered. I went with one of the main courses – slow cooked lamb, fennel, artichoke, tomato and basil, priced at £16. Nick`s steak was perfectly cooked and beautifully presented – sliced thinly and laid out like a fan. The chips were also well cooked (fried twice perhaps). Matt`s fish and chips didn`t last long and he was looking pretty pleased with himself until he got a glimpse of my lamb. The meat in my dish was served in three different ways, giving a wonderful combination of tastes and textures. The whole dish had clearly been very well thought through and the ingredients combined perfectly. My only reservation was the broccoli. Although perfectly al dente, it came with a `boiled egg dressing`, which was unnecessary and slightly tasteless, and maybe a little puzzling. That aside, it was, so far, a very special lunch.
Having made such a promising start, we all ordered desert. Nick took his favourite – bakewell tart, which came with vanilla ice cream; Matt went for a rich-looking hazelnut and dark chocolate mousse and I was torn between apple and gooseberry crumble, baked vanilla rosary cheesecake and joining Matt with the chocolate mousse. Seeing my indecision the waitress ventured that the peanut parfait and fudge sauce was, in her opinion, the standout dish. Based on the quality of recommendations so far, I didn’t hesitate and it was the right choice: absolutely delicious. In all honesty though, I tried all three deserts and I would have been perfectly happy with any one of them!
So, overall impressions? I believe that the flavours and presentation of the food, and the standard of service we experienced at the Perkin Reveller would befit almost any top London restaurant. I’m not exaggerating. Every dish was an absolute delight – not fussy but good looking and even better tasting. In a different building and a more convenient location, this place would soon be hard to book. As it is, situated on the tourist trail and away from the hustle and bustle of the City, it will be interesting to see what develops. What is certain is that this place is well worth a visit. It is truly great value – especially the set menu. It would be hard to find another restaurant of similar quality at these prices. I hope it`s as popular with the locals as it is with the tourists.
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