LONDON EATERIES – The Four Sisters Townhouse, a Pub with Potential!
In the heart of the city is St Paul’s Cathedral, and submerged in the depths of a side street is The Four Sisters Town House. Today I was being accompanied by a dear friend who also happens to be a chef and obviously loves exploring new tastes and food experiences. On entering the venue, I was immediately absorbed by the décor (which is certainly not subtle) with vibrant red walls, black wood trims and golden yellow upholstery. This dramatic ambience actually works for the main seating and dining area, but it looks a bit discordant in the bar area which looked a little baron in comparison. And with a gaping door in the centre of the bar area revealing a cluttered back room undermined the image and atmosphere being created.
My friend and I stood for what appeared to be an eternity as a solitary member of staff was available to deal with customers. He did appear to be quite busy and as I didn’t want to add to his stress levels, I said nothing of the wait. When the poor chap eventually greeted us, he explained that his colleague had not turned up for work today and he was left fending the fort, so to speak. He showed us to the dining area and we were given free rein in choosing our table. I chose to sit in a decidedly cosy corner and we both began to relax as we were given the cocktail menu to browse. I have to say, for a sole member of staff endeavouring to negotiate and appease all the customers seated for lunch and at the bar, our waiter was amazingly efficient.
I definitely liked what was on offer. The lunchtime drinks (6.50 each) included Income Tax Spritz ( Berto aperitif, Cynar, Double Dutch pomegranate and basil), Michelada (Sisters spice mix, citrus, Camden Gentleman’s Wit white beer) and finally Negroni Sbagliato (Campari, Four Sisters Townhouse sweet vermouth blend with prosecco), which is the cocktail I selected and what a delicious choice it was! There is also a separate cocktail menu offering a variety of New Wave, Classic and Forgotten cocktails (8.50 each) and I decided to try and all-time Classic, a White Russian, which was classically competent.
Now on to the food and the starters. I opted for the Gressingham duck liver parfait, coffee, fig chutney, grappa raisins and toast, 6.95. I have to say this was very, very good. The duck liver parfait melted on the tongue, and the fig chutney zinged in the mouth. My friend was satisfied with the Morecambe Bay brown shrimps, pickled fennel cucumber, mustard seeds on toast 9.50
After my second White Russian, I was certainly more insouciant and we both looked forward to our main meals.
I had the slow-roasted Suffolk pork belly, Bramley apple and wild mushroom risotto with a red wine jus, 13. I have to say I was more than satisfied (and satiated!) with this dish. It was magnificently presented and was a suitably substantial portion. My friend selected the oven roasted 28 day aged rump steak, thick hand cut chips, watercress and Four Sisters béarnaise. The meat was cooked to perfection but my friend felt the hand cut chips let the meal down; there were far too many flaccid chips swamping the plate. We all have a preference for sumptuously crunchy chips. The accompanying watercress salad just looked unappetizing and, for want of a better description, resembled nothing so much as rabbit vomit. No it wasn’t that bad, but it was in desperate need of a more appealing presentation.
As the lunchtime in the city area comes to an end, the restaurants experience a mass exodus and one feels very self-aware when you are the only occupied table left in the venue, so mid to late afternoon the atmosphere in these establishments does become compromised, but remember, it is the area and not the venue. It will undoubtedly become more vibrant again in the evening.
Finally pudding. I chose the Rhubarb Campari syllabub with ginger thins 4.75. My main criticism of this was that it was just too big for a lunchtime menu. It resembled a knickerbocker glory and, as a consequence, it’s whole character was negated.
My overall verdict: this is a pub with potential, a lot of potential. It’s endeavouring to be innovative and chic, and it nearly pulls it off. With a few tweaks here and there and a bit of fine-tuning, I’m sure it will become the gastronomical experience it aspires to be.
The Four Sisters Townhouse, 5 Groveland Ct, London EC4M 9EF
Heart London 5 * Review
Darren, Heart London Magazine