If Barbican residents are looking for a close-at-hand restaurant serving well prepared and well presented dishes at a reasonable price, then they probably need look no further than the new 25th Ward establishment on Long Lane. Going back in time the venue was once the home of Mustard’s Restaurant and then Il Boteglio, but the latter was replaced by 25th Ward back in November last year and we were impressed with the quality of the food and the service when we visited on a cold, damp February evening. The restaurant is right opposite the eastern end of Smithfield Market and will be well-placed almost opposite the new Elizabeth Line Long Lane station exit.
The welcoming frontage of the new 25th Ward restaurant on Long Lane
The restaurant is on two floors – a slightly below-street level downstairs seating around 20 people with an attractive bar and a slightly larger upstairs area seating around 30. It can be a little noisy with wooden floors, tables and chairs. but the restaurant management has done well to provide great quality food at prices which are comfortably below the area average for meals of this kind of quality.
The restaurant prides itself on its menu being fresh and the food being prepared in a simple and elegant manner. On its website it notes ‘great food doesn’t have to be complicated’. It describes its menu as ‘traditional French with an English twist’.
Part of restaurant interior showing bar area
Although 25th Ward has only been opened about 3 months now it has generated plenty of positive reviews on London restaurant websites – and of particular interest to Barbican residents is that it is also open, serving a choice of three different roasts on a Sunday. These are priced complete with all the trimmings. Roast sirloin of beef is priced at £14.95, pork belly or chicken at £12.95. Again something that has attracted favourable comment in the reviews
We were seated at a corner table by the window looking out onto the spectacular listed Smithfield Market building and on to Long Lane and were quickly brought warm fresh bread with savoury butter and olive oil/balsamic vinegar which was a nice touch and a good portent of what was to come.
There is a good selection of starters and pre-starters on the menu. My dining companion chose a nicely presented portion of smoked haddock kedgeree with mango chutney (£6.95) which she described as excellent. It certainly didn’t stint on the fish content of the kedgeree and as smoked haddock is one of my favourites I did sneak a forkful and concurred with her description!
I went for the devilled chicken livers served on toast in a really tasty thickish onion-based slightly spicy gravy-type sauce. The chicken livers were melt-in-the-mouth and a spoon was requested at the end to help finish off the extremely tasty sauce. I would thoroughly recommend the dish. Others starter options included a soup of the day; breaded tiger prawns with a chili aioli; baked camembert with a spicy apple chutney; caramelised pears with rocket, blue cheese, toasted walnuts and a balsamic reduction salad; and scotch egg with a mixed leaves garnish and spicy mayo. All seemed tempting, particularly after experiencing the quality of the dishes we ordered and for a light meal a couple of the starters would probably be an excellent choice. Prices for starters ranged from £4.95 for the soup to £7.50.
Devilled chicken livers
The menu is due to be changed so new prices and the selection may vary a little.
For mains the restaurant prides itself on its very reasonably priced sirloin or rib eye steaks (£16.95) served with a choice of garlic butter or green peppercorn sauce and unlimited fries – prices may be going up £1 on the new menu. These are served at the table in a metal dish on a table burner to keep them piping hot. They also come with an onion ring and a roasted balsamic plum tomato. My companion went for a medium rare rib-eye which she found very tasty, cooked just right and there was too much for her to finish.
Rib Eye steak served with garlic butter and on the table burner
I had another large dish which I also struggled to finish – a three piece rack of lamb with gratin potato, petit pois, cherry tomatoes on the vine (as sweet as they come) in a red wine reduction with a hint of mint (£15.95). Again beautifully served and my only complaint was that the lamb was a little chewy – but that might just be due to the poor state of my teeth! Perhaps I should have opted for the sea bass.
Both main dishes came with sufficient accompaniments to make side orders unnecessary although a good selection was available mostly at around the £3-3.50 mark.
Rack of lamb
There was a decent selection of other main courses priced from £12.95 up to £15.50 and if presentation and quality match the meal we had they look to be excellent value.
There is a reasonable wine list, although not many are available by the glass. It features a selection white and red wines from Italy, France, Australia and more – starting at just under £20 per bottle. We settled for a glass of red wine each and a bottle of sparkling water to wash down the food.
There was also a good choice of desserts and although I tend to skip desserts when eating out, in the interests of our readership of course we had to indulge! My dining companion was the more adventurous in demolishing a lovely looking piece of cheesecake at (£5.95) while I contented myself with three sorbets (pretty standard, but still very good) at £4.50.
On its website 25th Ward claims that one can enjoy a three course meal and a glass of wine at around £30, and we wouldn’t disagree – a pretty good price for the quality of food and the area even on the a la carte menu, but with special fixed price menus available at lunch and dinner one can probably cut the bill even further. Give it a try.