The city seems to be filled with exceptional restaurants hiding behind grand facades and in old buildings so I was surprised that I hadn’t discovered Bonds, in the boutique Threadneedle Hotel before. Set in a former bank, the Threadneedle has vaulted ceilings, imposing columns and a beautiful glassed dome in the roof. The bar at the front was buzzing but unless you were in the know, it is easy to miss the restaurant tucked away at the back, and more would be the shame.
Head chef Barry Tonks, who won his first Michelin star at 30, is clearly passionate about food and is not afraid to push the boundaries of flavour combinations and textures creating innovative dishes without being overly fussy. The menu is exciting, seasonal and I found it quite hard to choose the perfect dish without having food envy of what the others at my table had chosen. Luckily I chose well.
For starters I opted for seared ‘Sashimi’ yellow fin tuna (£12.95). Beautifully presented the tuna melted in the mouth and the dressing, a coriander, lime and soy sauce served in an individual pipette enhanced the tuna perfectly. I could also taste sesame oil whose nutty flavour really set off the dish. The addition of pineapple was an unusual one and while the acidic fruitiness complemented the tuna, I preferred to leave it to one side.
I don’t usually choose chicken breast when trying a new restaurant as there are usually many more exciting cuts of meat and fish to indulge in but the accompaniments of seasonal morels, mushroom cream sauce and gnocchi (£19.95) had me intrigued about this earthy combination – and I didn’t regret it. The chicken, gently poached, was cooked to perfection and the strong flavour of the roasted wild garlic and morel mushrooms added a kick without overwhelming the dish.
For dessert (though I barely had room) I went for the girlish sounding Floating Island with crushed raspberries, pink praline and custard (£6.95). The soft, delicate texture of the meringue was contrasted by the crunch of the praline while the tartness of the berries completed the flavour.
The setting is grandiose and rather formal but the food is expertly delivered without being too fussy or complicated and the seasonal menus offer flair.
[picture credit: The Critical Couple]