It may have taken nearly 20 years to happen, but the culinary regeneration of the City of London has finally taken off. The latest addition to the ever-swelling ranks of eateries in the capital's prime business quarter is the 50-seat One Blossom Street, located north of Spitalfields Market near Liverpool Street station.
The baby of chef-proprietor Andrew Barber (formerly of Cactus Blue, the Fulham Road restaurant, and Café Nico at Ninety Park Lane), One Blossom Street opened in July with an eclectic modern menu sporting transatlantic overtones. The new autumn menu, while not so obviously US-influenced, also gives a nod westwards.
Among the eight main offerings is a sourdough-crusted cod fillet served with a New England chowder (£13.50), which is Barber's take on a dish of chowder served in a scooped-out sourdough crust he came across in San Francisco. "It was great," he says. "You ate the whole lot, crust as well. We get a lot of American diners, and I'd expect them to go for that."
Blossom Street's version is a slow pan-fried fillet of cod coated in toasted sourdough breadcrumbs surrounded by a chowder of Cornish cockles.
Another US-influenced dish is a twice-baked blue cheese soufflé with roasted pear and hazelnut salad (£5.25) - one of eight starter choices - but, that apart, the new menu is firmly rooted in modern European food. "It's a response to customer comments," explains Barber. "City people do like a bit of comfort food."
So, with an eye on the shortening days, the menu now includes dishes such as roasted rump of lamb on bubble and squeak, black pudding and rosemary jus (£14); steak and kidney steamed honey porter pudding with green beans and carrots (£12.75); and a coq au vin served with fondant potatoes (£12.50).
The latter's components are cooked individually - poulet breast is pan-sautéd then surrounded with button mushrooms, pearl onions and a red wine sauce laced with tarragon, garlic confit and herb-marinated black olives.
Desserts, too, (all £5.50) are in the winter comfort zone - hot soufflés, charlottes and a traditional rice pudding based on a Mrs Beeton recipe. Barber expects a chocolate and cherry charlotte to score a hit with both corporate lunchtime and residential evening diners, currently spending an average of £35-£40 per head. Encased in langue de chat biscuits, this comprises a chocolate mousse laced with griottines and praline, and is served with chocolate and cherry, and vanilla and praline, sauces.
At the moment, Barber and his three-strong brigade are cooking about 50 lunch and 25 evening covers, which are served to an international clientele by restaurant manager Tanna Swann and her front of house team of six.
Barber is satisfied with the level of business at the venue, which also has a 60-seat bar and four private dining rooms accommodating as many as 40 diners, and is hoping that the £1.9m invested so far is money well spent. n
One Blossom Street Restaurant & Bar, 1 Blossom Street, London E1 6NX. Tel: 020 7247 6532