Peter Morrell and a friend go to the latest Drake and Morgan establishment in the City
In an earlier life running a computer software company, the City of London was one of our key markets. In the City the wheels of commerce are lubricated with a few glasses of wine at lunchtime. One of my favourite spots was a Corney and Barrow, next to Lloyds of London in Fenchurch Avenue. I was recently back, the main difference is that Corney and Barrow were acquired by Drake and Morgan in 2015 and the restaurant, in new livery, it’s now called The Moniker.
A valid question may be, why go to a restaurant in a business district? The answer is simple. the City of London, Londinium to the Romans, is one of the most culturally rich areas in the UK. You can visit the Temple of Mithras, see where the Great Fire started and wander through the historic Leadenhall Market, all within 10 minutes of the restaurant.
After walking like a Roman, The Moniker is the ideal place to relax and have lunch. There is a very pleasant al fresco terrace overlooking a pedestrianised area and inside are two large dining spaces. My friend is an ex City man so when we arrived the upbeat buzzy atmosphere came as no surprise to us.
We were soon settled at a comfortable table taking a look at the menu. We passed on the pre-lunch nibbles but if you need to fill a gap before the meal arrives then small plates like Nocellara olives, smoked almonds and padron peppers will satisfy your hunger pangs.
I’ve eaten in a number of Drake and Morgan restaurants so was confident that whatever we ordered would be good. The starters available would suit any palate and food preference, for example there were two sharing boards, a charcuterie selection for carnivores and a vegan mezze option.
We were tempted by the crab mayonnaise on toast and the chorizo scotch egg but my companion chose the smoked aubergine flatbread and I had the salt & Szechuan pepper squid. When the food arrived it was well presented and looked very appetising. The flatbread was covered in an eye dazzling array of roasted peppers, baba ganoush, vegan feta, pine nuts and pesto and, according to my friend, was as good as it looked.
Although my squid couldn’t compete on appearance, it was just as delicious. Fresh and tender in a light crispy batter it was further enhanced with a very bold lemon mayonnaise.
There were numerous main dish options like salads, grills hamburgers and fish with a good selection of vegetarian and vegan options. Again the choice was difficult, we liked the thought of the Tandoori monkfish curry, the crispy duck salad and the traditional fish and chips. My friend plumped for the balsamic marinated chicken breast and I had the D&M burger.
The chicken breast was served with Asian greens, shiitake mushrooms, soy, coriander and had a sweet chilli glaze. This was a very complex and powerful dish but certainly did liven up the flavour of the chicken breast which can be quite bland.
I regularly choose a burger as it gives me the opportunity to compare essentially the same dish across a number of different restaurants. As I expected the burger at the Moniker was very good. It was a 7oz British beef patty garnished with Applewood cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise in served in a brioche bun with a side of chips. The meat was packed with flavour and the texture was moist and tender. I particularly liked the addition of the Applewood cheddar and the brioche bun was notable. Full marks as well for the chips with their crunchy exterior and yielding floury centre.
When The Moniker was a Corney and Barrow restaurant good wines were an important part of their repertoire. This tradition of offering a superior wine list has continued and Corney and Barrow wines are still available. There is a well curated range of red, white and rosé wines together with an impressive list of sparklers.
Our match for the meal was from the well established Barton & Guestier, the Fleur de Vigne 2016 a red from France made with a combination of Grenache and Merlot grapes, it was a snip at £20.25 a bottle. There were intense soft fruit aromas, particularly raspberries, in the bouquet. On the palate the fruit flavours persisted and were joined with spicy notes. The tannins were well-balanced making the wine soft and well-rounded and the finish was strong and persistent.
The very satisfying first two courses had filled us completely so desserts were beyond us. The choices did look tempting with things like chocolate brownies, summer berry crumble and a cherry and chocolate dome.
One final point to note, the staff were all very friendly and helpful throughout the meal.
This new Drake and Morgan restaurant offer the same high quality of food and service in comfortable surroundings as their other popular locations.
25 Fenchurch Avenue
London EC3M 5AD
020 7398 5870