The Factory House, Fenchurch Street
A bold subversion of the norm in what’s known as London’s most commercial and unrelenting district, The Factory House offers a nostalgic look back at the indulgence of forgotten British flavours and delightful Victorian foppishness. It’s almost as if the school-bell ‘brrring!’ from the clocking-in machine signals that we’ve left the chaos behind and moved into an old-world bubble- for a couple of hours at least. We descend the staircase into the underground restaurant, and memories of the flurries of city workers outside are forgotten.
The dining room offers a mix of cosmopolitan and antique features: a flash open kitchen hums away unobtrusively in the background, a plethora of bottles decorate the lively bar area, while quirky, reclaimed pieces include vintage station clocks and exposed pipes. We peruse the newspaper menu (cheekily printed on Financial Times-pink paper), which is bursting with rich, heady offerings as well as dainty, more experimental dishes.
Starters were a mix of rich and creamy mushroom soup- ceremoniously poured into the bowl at the table around a tower of punchy cheddar toast- and clean, citrusy crab salad. Creative nibbles include light bacon and thyme popcorn filled with smoky flavour, and wonderfully fat and juicy Spanish olives, stuffed with orange, sea salt and herbs.
A succulent cut of guinea fowl (complete with the satisfying crunch of crispy skin) was served with delicious black pudding Scotch eggs- perfect gloopy yolks were encased in a rich, peppery meat jackets. To accompany, we chose perfectly seasoned creamed spinach served in a hefty wrought iron pan.
The second main was exquisitely presented sea bass with cockles and crisp potatoes: cooked superbly and artfully presented, we chose a fresh, cleansing heritage tomato and orange salad.
For dessert, a smooth, citrusy lemon and orange posset explored an array of textures. A slippery marmalade-tang jelly and crushed orange ice sat atop the creamy posset, while crumbly, buttery sumac biscuits were served on the side.
You can pitch the dining vibe here depending on the occasion: booths streaming live news can be booked to accompany gourmet business breakfasts, marvellous cocktail sorcery can be enjoyed at the bar, or enjoy refined dishes that would stand up on the menu of any foodie destination. The service is smart and savvy- with all waiting staff we encounter being acutely knowledgeable, friendly and approachable- and it’s partly their hospitality that made this visit for us.
This might be something of an anomaly amongst Fenchurch Street restaurants– renowned for its sharp glamour and dogged pace, and we witness more than enough skill, nous and professionalism to pull off the quirks that some critics have dismissed as gimmicky and try-hard. The Factory House both complements and offers solace from what’s going on beyond the timekeeping machine at the top of the stairs; a much welcome dining twist that’s sure to draw in a clientele spanning from city slickers, to food enthusiasts and beyond.
The Factory House
10 Lime Street, London, EC3M 7AA
Online booking available here