Silk & Grain, Bank

Silk & Grain is the City’s latest restaurant and bar specialising in barrel aged cocktails. Just minutes from Bank station, it is stylish and welcoming with a long cocktail bar and ample comfortable seating for diners to relax and indulge.

When I approached I was surprised to hear loud laughter out on the street. This restaurant is a hotspot for city bankers needing to let off steam at the end of a long day and when I visited on a Thursday evening the venue was heaving with suits and was consequently very raucous. We sat upstairs which helped with the sound levels, though the room was stiflingly hot. Needless to say, I was delighted when an exotic cocktail was placed in front of me, and I began to relax.

Cocktails are the main reason to visit Silk & Grain. They use intricate cocktail ageing processes to add new quality and taste to classic cocktails. The concoctions are left in oak barrels, metal, leather and glass containers to develop and accentuate the flavours. There are also original cocktails on offer, innovative creations with which they hope to woo customers. We tried a variety of these drinks:

The light, spritz-like City Orchard is flavoured with fruity ingredients (pear liqueur, lime and apple) and mixed with rum. It is the ideal refreshing summer drink. Panky Club is the ultimate sweet girly drink, similar to a Clover Club with gin, raspberry, lemon and egg white.

Later on in the evening we tried a Carney’s Brew, a great drink for beer and cocktail lovers as it is mixed with Bourbon, house-made ginger syrup, lemon, Innis & Gunn oak aged beer. An aromatic alternative is the Leather & Spice which was my favourite drink, a balanced short cocktail made with Scotch, leather infusion, mango, passion fruit syrup and cardamom bitters, it felt like I was on holiday.

To eat, we opted for a special sharing steak with numerous side dishes. The steaks are cooked on the Josper grill for maximum flavour though we found ours to be slightly overdone which was a shame as the meat was top quality. Skinny fries with truffled Parmesan were delicious, the fat chips had a lovely garlic hint but were heavy and dry inside. The steak sauces were nondescript, I couldn’t tell blue cheese from Bearnaise.

Desserts are indulgent, based on classic British recipes (there are pudding cocktails too but we decided to resist). Frozen white chocolate parfait with strawberry coulis and pecan parfait was the unaminous winner, a sweet creamy ice-cream cake with a satisfyingly crunchy nutty crumble.

Silk and Grain has a strong concept, and I think after resolving a few teething problems, it will become a great destination for cocktails and supper in the city.

More information and book here:

City Social Bar, Bank

City Social, Jason Atherton’s newest venture, is to be found at the top of Tower 42 (formerly the site of Gary Rhodes’ eatery). Usually Atherton’s food is the star quality of any restaurant but recently I’ve found there has been a sense of style triumphing over substance. At Berners Tavern the glorious dining room steals the show and here at City Social it is the views which wow.

I left the bankers to enjoy the expensive restaurant menu and instead opted for a seat in the more casual bar area. If you are looking for sky high entertaining venues City Social’s stylish ambience, fashionable crowd and enviable views beat the local competitors, SushiSamba and Duck & Waffle; I am yet to try the Shangri-La Shard Bar.

The venue has a slick but vintage feel, with a great soundtrack of jazzy tunes. We were seated at a preferable table – from the window we immediately spotted The Gherkin, Cheese-grater and Walkie-talkie buildings, I had time to ponder why we gave our monumental buildings such domestic names! Bar food is expensive considering the portion sizes, but I enjoyed the inventive recipes: goat’s cheese churros with London truffle honey was the highlight, indulgent cheesy doughnut creations.

I loved the imaginative cocktails, which looked and tasted wonderful. The Root of All Evil is a must, presented in a silver goblet and adorned with miniature fake $100 notes – it looks quite the part against the impressive view. A unique concoction made with Walnut rum, Bramley apple syrup, Poire William, lime juice and root beer, it was a refreshing ice cold sour but nutty drink. Robin Hood Quince of Thieves is a delicious choice too, a mix of Somerset cider brandy, quince liqueur, honey mead, lemon juice, mini apple bullseye. It is served short, a smooth balanced drink that is impossible to not like.

For a celebration or special occasion, City Social is the perfect venue: you can raise a glass in the bar and nibble on the quirky snacks, but I wouldn’t waste your hard earned cash in the restaurant when the food at Atherton’s other establishments is far more worthy.

More information and book here:

Threadneedles Hotel, Bank

I have visited Threadneedles once before, at Christmas time when the hotel had featured as part of the secret hotels offer. Back then it was empty and quiet, very different to the hotel I experienced last month. Now part of the Marriott Autograph Collection, the property seems to be thriving with a buzzing atmosphere in the lobby and a busy occupancy.

Nearby to Bank and Liverpool Street, Threadneedles is an obvious choice for business people who want a hotel with a bit of character. That said, the venue is still quite corporate.

We were up several floors in the lovely Hilary Suite. Decorated in cream and brown, the room has a sophisticated classic feel with a atmospheric black and white photo of London’s south bank above the bed. The smaller adjoining room would be ideal for late night working though the lack of light may pose a problem. Abstract artwork hangs on the wall and a Nespresso machine is on the desk ready for use.

There are all the facilities for a modern guest, including a selection of glossy magazines, which I appreciated. The king size bed was comfortable and well dressed with a thick soft duvet and plump pillows.

The bathroom was rather dark too, stocked with White Company toiletries with a big bath, shower and large sink layout.

Ideal for daytime meetings, the onsite restaurant, Bonds, serves good British grub at reasonable prices (well for the city at least). Its success is hardly surprising considering the prestigious team who run the joint. Head chef, Stephen Smith has worked with some of the top chefs at some truly fine restaurants, Bonds is lucky to have a man with this experience at the helm. We enjoyed a tasty three course dinner here choosing from the concise but appealing menu. Highlights included the butternut squash and sage risotto, a wonderfully warming dish with a bite from the squash and a herby hint from the sage, topped with parsnip crisps that gave an exciting crunch. Slow-cooked Duke of Berkshire pork was deliciously indulgent, served with seared scallops and cauliflower purée. Of the desserts, I’d recommend the sticky toffee pudding – a British favourite.

Breakfast is served in Bonds too: Parisian-style pastries, coffee, juice or fresh homemade waffles with berries for a morning treat.

In the centre of the business district, Threadneedles exudes character and boutique charm, making it ideal for business or leisure.

More information and book here.