This bar knows its clientele – unpretentious, classic and with enviously deep pockets. 1 Lombard Street is thrillingly City: both in its location – on the nub between King William Street and Poultry (so not really Lombard Street at all) – and its history, as its address has wined, dined and entertained suits for years. And it’s still the number one traditional City location: proven by my companion’s screech of ‘ONE LOMBARD STREET???’, high-pitched enough to shatter windows in Kent, when I told her where we were drinking.
Housed in a former Grade II-listed bank (as so many of Cornhill and Lombard Street’s bars are), 1 Lombard is where the City talks, eats and even gets married – if you’re that dedicated to EC1.
The circular bar sits underneath the domed cupola, providing a centerpiece for the neo-classical style restaurant. Brasserie-style booths and starched white tables surround, where, thankfully the acoustics are such that nobody can overhear the deals signed at the next table. It’s a frightfully decadent place for a weekday post market-close catch-up with a friend – perfect for those nights when a warm house wine in the local just won’t cut it.
The highlight, as ever, comes from the central bar. Insouciant barmen whip up classics such as the rose martini owhisky sour, or meander easily through house specialties such as the ‘flirtini’ or gin-based ‘innocent’. The straight-up caipirina was a decent warm-up for the champagne bellini that followed – as is with most City bars, the champagne cocktails never fail to hit the right spot. Obviously, there’s a decent wine list, both by the glass and by the carafe, but it’s the cocktails that really shine.
While the brasserie and the restaurant require a bit of forward planning, the bar food is very reasonably priced, and it means you don’t have to leave a spot that allows a 180 vista of the City’s most beautiful people. There’s beef carpaccio, calamari and moules frites available as nibbles, although the staff are so attentive that they will usually be willing to serve full-on brasserie food to your seat. It’s so enchanting it errs on the side of gastro debauchery.
In a time where there is a cri de coeur for such comforting, traditional, classical City bars – all I can say is flex your bank account, and settle in for the night at 1 Lombard.
1 Lombard Street, London, EC3V 9AA