A contemporary reimagining of the lunch canteen serves up a treat for tech-savvy food lovers.
Once you’ve eaten at this forward-thinking, still-new Gardens eatery, I challenge you not to keep checking their website for the day’s menu, even on days when you know you’ll be eating at your desk.
The food is that good, and even with just three dishes (meat, fish and plant-based) on the menu, plus one dessert, it’s surprisingly hard to choose. The answer is to go with a party of three, so you can sample the Charred aubergine and tomato terrine, the Green herb, pistachio and lime-crusted linefish and the Tartare of beef, and maybe still have room for the Buttermilk panna cotta dessert.
The menu changes daily, but do keep an eye out for the the flavoursome aubergine terrine served with a mustardy salad of rocket, almonds and shaved parmesan, herb chilli flatbread, parsley pesto and tomato salsa – each element sitting prettily in its own slot on a custom-made canteen tray. It’s a presentation concept ideally suited to the excellent tartare – hand-diced cubes of beef with capers, gherkins, parsley and chilli oil, with a soft egg nestling on well-dressed leafy greens, battered onion rings, wood-fired melba toast and the chef’s onion chutney.
The food is thoughtful, fresh and delicious, and the experience upbeat and efficient.
There’s nothing cheap and cheerful about the very compact, decidedly local and highly curated wine list, with none of the usual suspects in the line-up of three whites, three reds and a single rosé. They’re all available by the glass, which by the way means a tumbler.
Prospective waiters should not call at 81 St John’s Street, as the concept all but eliminates the role of service staff. But although you’ll order your meal online, or from an iPad at your table, and pay for it before it arrives, the process is so seamless that you will consider yourself very well served.
Going several steps beyond the open restaurant kitchen, the dining area at Chefs feels like an extension of the kitchen, rather than the other way around. There is zero romantic artifice. Instead, there are pristine white-tiled walls, large industrial style windows and miles of shining steel. There’s also a bit of a din that doesn’t emanate from the strikingly serene kitchen but seems to be an acoustic quirk that rules it out as a venue for intimate or illicit rendezvous.
a lavish weekday lunch or an after-work/pre-movie meal
Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.