“… a good dinner & feasting reconciles everybody”
“The truth is, I do indulge myself” – S. Pepys, 1665
I’m going to start in the middle, because if you only read one line of this blog post, let it be this – you need their beef wellington in your life!
To me, when beef wellington is done well, it’s one of the most indulgent and incredible dishes. For weeks before visiting The Lampery I’d been so excited about their beef wellington. I’d seen photos of it and it just looked so perfect. I’m the worst for hyping things up or getting overexcited, just to inevitably be disappointed but this was everything I could’ve hoped for and more. The beef itself was the softest, most tender cut, cooked perfectly pink in the middle – it was up there with the best fillet steaks I’ve had – even without the pastry I’d have been happy (and that’s saying something, because I bloody love pastry!). It was surrounded by a delicious mushroom duxelle and wrapped up in beautiful buttery puff pastry, cooked to perfection – crispy, golden brown, flaky and soft, and that was before it was drowned in the delightful Burgundy jus which was sitting on the side in a pretty little jug.
Anyway, back to the beginning and a bit more about The Lampery. Based in the heart of historic London, they’re a new restaurant and cocktail bar serving the ‘Best of British’ seasonal produce. Some of their cocktails, and quotes on the menu are taken from Samuel Pepys, whose private diary is one of the primary sources for accounts of some of our most prominent historic events including the Plague and the Great Fire of London. The restaurant itself is absolutely stunning. From the moment you step inside it feels special, with plush velvet sofas, marble tables, perfectly polished silverware and a stunning bar area.
For lunch when it’s quieter, they serve food on the ground-floor level, where natural light floods in through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows and there’s the most beautiful canopy of leaves and flowers lining the ceiling. The theme is a gold and a stunning turquoise green, with some pale pinks scattered around on the sofa cushions and the menus – it really is gorgeous.
Their menu is insane. There’s quite honestly not a single item on there that I wouldn’t eat. It’s classic British food done incredibly well, with each dish thought out perfectly, presented beautifully and served with a delicious array of colourful sides. I know I’m indecisive but how could anyone decide between wild mushrooms on brioche, burrata, scallops, terrine and mackerel for starters. Then for mains they’ve got every meat (duck, lamb, beef, poussin and suckling pig) alongside fishes, a lobster burger (I was so, so tempted by that!) and even a vegetarian risotto sounded incredible. Their desserts are classics too, with crumble, Eton mess and rice pudding featuring alongside classic British cheese and a failsafe chocolate option.
To start we ordered cocktails – their two signature ones – Not Your Pepys’ Manhattan (Woodford Reserve, Jim Beam, Licor 43, Maritini Rosso & orange bitters) and Mr Pepys (Pineapple & acai infused vodka, Bacardi & sugar syrup). If there’s one type of drink I enjoy it’s a good cocktail and these were amazing! Our waiter was exceptionally excited about this cocktails, and with good reason. Despite not having a clue about any of the list of ingredients he reeled off, I was more than happy to taste them and they were so perfectly balanced – sweet but strong – there’s definitely no scrimping on the alcohol here! Mr Pepys was my favourite, probably due to the fruity, sugary flavours coming through, but if all cocktails made with fruit-infused vodka are this good I’ll definitely be becoming more of a drinker this year!
We were also brought a little round of brioche bread, and I have to admit that excited as I was about the cocktails, they definitely took a backseat once that beautiful creation arrived. Warm and incredibly soft, it was served on a thick wooden board with a little round of what looked suspiciously like goats cheese. Cue another wonderful surprise though, because much as I love goats cheese, this was an incredibly light whipped butter, seasoned with herbs – is there anything better than warm brioche spread thickly with melty flavoured butter!? Needless to say I inhaled it, and was swiftly brought another whilst still trying to narrow down their incredible list of starters.
Eventually I decided on the scallops – they’re something I never cook myself at home and they always feel so special. Marcus got the wild mushrooms, and they packed flavour into those mushrooms like nothing I’ve ever tried before! They were delicious, but as soon as my dish arrived I knew I’d made the right decision. The plate came with an intriguing black lace-patterned disc balanced on top. Beautifully thin and crisp, it was delicious – though I couldn’t quite figure out what it was made of! Once removed it revealed the most incredible scallops – plump, succulent and absolutely huge, served on a sweet and silky smooth parsnip puree and glistening from the juices, topped delicately with truffle.
With not a crumb left it was onto mains and time for me to tuck into the much-anticipated wellington! The wellington itself came on its own, which meant I was free to go crazy on the sides – and one look at their menu and I guarantee you’ll want to do the same. Beef dripping chips were stunning – huge fat batons which were golden brown with the type of crispy edges and fluffy soft insides that you can surely only get from triple cooking them. Cauliflower cheese gratin packed an absolute punch – the sauce was made with a lovely strong cheese and the whole dish was served in a skillet, but not before a further layer of cheese which had turned a beautiful bubbling golden brown under the grill. Chestnut tossed brussel sprouts with crisp treacle smoked bacon were every bit as divine as they sound – I’m a huge sprout lover anyway so I may be biased, but if there’s a way to get anyone into sprouts, it’s serving it with little crunchy pieces of smoked bacon and tender chestnut pieces – I never wanted to get to the bottom of that bowl!
A wonderful selection of sides topped off with a glorious bowl of mash, so delightfully creamy that the only thing that could make it better was the addition of truffle – so naturally they added it!
Marcus got the lamb rump, which came sliced to reveal the perfectly pink middle. The beautiful blue plates were pretty enough, but combined with the bright green of the smashed peas and the yellow potatoes it was like a work of art. I have to admit the meat itself was tougher than I was expecting. I almost never have lamb – purely due to personal preference, but when I have had it it’s been braised, and this required a lot more chewing than I was expecting. That said, there’s no denying it was a seriously good quality piece of meat, and when the rosemary butter melted down into the meat and onto the plate it was another stunning dish. Although I only tried bits of his meal I have to admit that much as I loved the sides I ordered, the crushed peas and potatoes on his plate were somehow just as good despite sounding more boring on paper!
When it came to ordering desserts, once again I was torn. The coffees had come and been finished by the time I made a decision. Sadly my coffee tasted a little burnt, but truthfully that was long forgotten by the time the meal was finished! A good fruit crumble is one of my all time favourites – and with The Lampery serving theirs with both ice cream and custard (choosing between them is a decision no one should ever have to make in my opinion!) it was probably always going to be a winner, but the Jersey cream rice pudding with damson jam sounded incredible too. I don’t think I’ve ever ordered a rice pudding for dessert but if anyone could do a good one I’ve no doubt it would be them. Even the burnt rhubarb meringue pie appealed to me! I’m not a big fan of meringue but I’d seen pictures and it looked beautiful.
After much deliberation we both had to go for the fruit crumble – a surprising choice for Marcus! – but we shared the flourless bitter chocolate & almond slice too. The chocolate slice came with Clementine crisp and Armagnac cream and it was so rich and indulgent – a thick, dense, ganache-type slice. The cream was beautifully light and whipped with vanilla to offset some of the heaviness – a match made in heaven.
The crumble was delicious, not that I’d have expected anything less by this point. The fruit was stewed until it was soft and tender and topped generously with a golden, crunchy crumble which had a slightly nutty hint. The tonka bean custard was, unsurprisingly, perfect. For those who have never had it, think a beautiful vanilla flavour somehow taken to the next level with added subtle hints of cinnamon, caramel and honey coming through. Combine that with a lovely refreshing lemon ice cream and it was quite literally the perfect end to a perfect meal.
Our waiter throughout was absolutely lovely too. I didn’t quite catch his name, and he finished his shift before we left, but he was so friendly and welcoming with a genuine passion for the food and drinks he was serving that we couldn’t help but be excited about it too – we weren’t planning on getting alcoholic drinks his eyes literally lit up when he was describing their signature cocktails (with good reason – take it from someone who generally turns alcohol down that they’re definitely worth an order!).
The Lampery is a great new addition to a beautifully historic part of London – stunning takes on absolute classics using only the finest of ingredients.. and if you hadn’t guessed by now my absolute must-order recommendation has to be their beef wellington!
Link to their website: https://thelampery.com