New restaurant, new building. And while looking like an Ikea showcase, The Terrace’s wood and glass structure makes for a surprisingly snazzy eating environment. The combination of timber and tealights suggest warmth and traditionalism, but the cream and powder-blue furnishings remind us of the plastic modern world, and contrast nicely.
We were shown to a window seat, one of many that gaze out into the surrounding greenery of London’s largest garden square. With the rain pattering on the glass, by God, it felt like we were in that scene from Ghostbusters where a crazed Rick Moranis (is there any other type) hammers on the park restaurant windows in a desperate attempt to elude a pursuing dog-thing.
That might be just fiction, but the very spot our window looked out onto was once the scene of its own horrors. It was here, in 1586, that Anthony Babbington and his Catholic supporters were executed on a charge of treason. After being hanged to within an inch of their lives, the men must have screamed in terror as their viscera were slowly cut away and evicted from their bodies.
Naturally, The Terrace avoids any mention of local history. And fortunately, its high standards mean we can cross out the bowel-trouble analogy we were hoping to make.
So, I suppose we ought to tell you about the food. That’s why you’re reading this, right? The menu is an interesting mixture of English, French and Caribbean with one or two unusual twists - vodka and beetroot marinade, anyone? It’s a little unfriendly to vegetarians, who are given only one main course option (though there’s plenty of fish for pseudo-veggies).
To start, we ordered an unreasonably, and unseasonably, good Cornish crab and avocado salad. Mrs Londonist opted for that unusual beetroot marinade, which added a blood-red hue to the salmon it was decorating.
For the mains, we selected from opposite ends of the culinary spectrum. The jerk pork with sautéed plantain, avocado and tomato dressing was superb. Mrs Londonist’s wild mushroom and champagne risotto, meanwhile, looked a little flat, but positively hummed with flavour. ‘There are all sorts of mushrooms hiding in here,’ she exclaimed.
Small food, so plenty of room for dessert. Here, the menu took a sharp skew towards homely English favourites. We took on the Bakewell tart (pictured) and a chocolate brownie with rum & raisin (there’s that Caribbean hint again) ice cream.
The wine list was extensive and expensive, but had a useful carafe option on several wines, endowing the dining couple with just the right amount. Service was friendly throughout, without being overbearing. The total cost (three course meal for two with carafe of wine) is around the £70 mark.
On leaving the restaurant, our waiter came bounding along behind. ‘Sir, Madam, please, I have to let you out.’ Given that we were already standing in the open air, this left us rather confused. Turns out that the gates to Lincoln’s Inn Fields are locked at 9 O’clock every night, even if the restaurant is full of diners. The poor waiter has to balance his table duties with those of a park-keeper and a jailor. Thinking back to our first impressions, we resisted the urge to enquire ‘Are you the Keymaster?’.
Verdict: Swallow, and return in summer, when this place goes al freso.