Woven into the tapestry of rich banking history which exists in Lombard Street, central London is the majestic 1 Lombard Street building.
One of the earliest recordings of the Grade II-listed building dates back to 1776 when Smith, Payne & Smith bank was located to the rear of the building in Plough Court. The father of Charles Dickens first love, Maria Beadnell, was a manager of the bank and the young Dickens would walk to Lombard Street in the early hours just to gaze upon the place where Maria slept.
Opened by former banker Soren Jessen in 1998 the old bank now houses two restaurants, The Brasserie and 1776, and a bar. Recently undergoing a refurbishment, the 1776 restaurant is now open, with a new menu designed by Head Chef, Juri Ravagli, formerly of The Drones Club, Harry’s Bar and George Club.
Speaking about taking the plunge into the restaurant industry in 1998, Jessen said:
“It was a terrifying prospect, changing direction at the height of my career, but I was convinced the City needed something new. I’d had 10 years working as a banker in the area, and I knew exactly who my clients were. City restaurants were built around five lunches a week: if we couldn’t create an evening business, I knew we’d fail within a year.”
Speaking on the recent refurbishment of 1776, Jessen added:
“We’ve used some reclaimed wooden floorboards in 1776, the building itself is very useful in that we just needed to pick out the little details which already existed and highlight them. We’ve also put in some old brass stained antique mirrors in between the windows, allowing for the light to flow through the restaurant.
“The building is listed so the exterior has remained unchanged – but it was restored, as it had not been touched for twenty years. The sandstone has been blasted and the window frames have been painted.
“It’s really a landmark in the city, a very popular destination, so this kind of refurbishment is a great responsibility. I’m very happy with the end result – I think the place looks sharp.”
Speaking on what a visitor to 1776 can expect, Jessen said:
“The style of the restaurant is understated luxury, it’s casual and relaxed, offering personal service and serious food. It’s simple, honest food from all over the world.”
The restaurant hit the headlines over the festive period for serving a 14-bird roast as part of its Christmas menu.
Inspired by the decadent tastes of Henry VIII from smallest bird to biggest, the roast consisted of quail, squab pigeon, teal, wood pigeon, French partridge, mallard, woodcock, guinea fowl, pheasant, Barbary duck, Aylesbury duck, peacock and a wild American turkey, all stuffed into a goose.
It took Chef Juri Ravagli a week to source the birds from all over England, a day to bone and flatten them and three days to marinate them with herbs and spices.
The rest of the menu in 1776 offers a range of dishes using the finest of ingredients, from Aberdeen Angus beef to locally sourced fish.
For more information about the venue then visit www.1lombardstreet.com.