In the cobbled backstreets of the City, you’ll find the Old Bengal Warehouse. Built in 1771 for the East India Company to store spices, tea, cigars and port, it now houses British steak restaurant New Street Grill and its neighbour, Old Bengal Bar. The restaurant and bar venture has meant that the building is brilliantly preserved. So, when we stepped into the Grade-II listed brick depot, it felt like stepping into an episode of BBC’s Taboo and we easily imagined James Delaney skulking in the courtyard plotting to steal barrels of the saltpetre from a sinister East India Company.
In fact before dinner we were encouraged to have a cocktail at Bengal Bar, where the cocktail recipes are all based on the building’s heritage – a great way to consume local history. We ordered the Whatts & White, named after 2 of the founders of The Company (Sir John Watts & George White) and sat in the Georgian courtyard, wrapped in blankets and kept toastie by patio heaters.
Once our quaffable history lesson was over, we passed the mirrored wall hiding the entrance to the toilets (a good sobriety test) and entered the main dining room of New Street Grill. Dimly lit with copper lightbulbs, we settled into a studded leather booth and gazed admiringly at the floor-to-ceiling wine bottle cabinets. The wine bottles aren’t just for show, as New Street Grill has a large wine list and a sommelier is on hand to help you choose your tipple.
Being that we were in a steak house, we thought it best to keep things light for our starters and we kicked off with a couple of diver-caught scallops served on the half shell. They were exactly what you’d want them to be – big, plump and juicy. These sweet, nutty scallops were accompanied by deep and salty black pudding, leek and a bisque-like sauce that we slurped from the shell.
Next we enjoyed fresh, dressed East Coast crab. The cool, sweet crab meat was neatly arranged in the shell and served with crunchy sliced iceberg, slabs of rye bread and a lemon wedge in muslin to season.
Our first main was on the bone free-range chicken breast. Dramatically arranged, the golden skinned chicken packed a lot of flavour: from the crisp and salty skin, and succulent thyme-infused meat to the earthy Scottish girolles served in a rich sauce, this dish was certainly a winner.
Next was the main event, the 42-day dry aged Aberdeen Angus Cross rib eye, marbled with fat and beautifully rendered and caramelised. The steak was eaten greedily along with a small pan of peppercorn sauce and so was the highlight of our meal.
Alongside our hearty main courses, we enjoyed equally hearty sides. Beautifully buttery mashed potato, creamed spinach and a rich Montgomery cheddar mac & cheese gave our meal some much appreciated carb-joy.
After our heavy mains, we opted for a couple of light and fruity desserts. First was the fantastically juicy poached comice pear, which was served with a cassis blackcurrant sorbet and a cool dollop of crème fraîche.
Next we had a well balanced lemon posset. Both citrus fresh and indulgently creamy it was accompanied by 2 fingers of buttery ginger shortbread that were perfect for snapping and dunking.
Finally, we ordered our coffees and enjoyed our final morsels: a trio of petits fours that left us fit to burst.
On paper, with its proximity to The City, leather chairs and it’s meat-orientated menu, you would be forgiven for thinking New Street Grill would be a testosterone-laden hangout for city boys. But in fact the apparently robust food is delicately balanced and the dining room allows guests to enjoy a preserved slice of London’s rich history.
New Street Grill
16a New Street, London, EC2M 4TR