Thursday, November 23, 2006

Banking on Bank

The first thing you notice as you enter Bank restaurant is an enormous very unusual chandelier that covers much of the ceiling. It is unusual because it consists of individually numbered glass pieces that are suspended by one end and the effect of all these edges of glass lined up is that of a huge green glass wave. The pieces are numbered because they are all slightly different shapes and when they are brought down for occasional cleaning they can all get put back in the correct formation. Not a cleaning job I'd fancy!

The best thing about Bank is the menu, or maybe the best thing is the food. I like the menu because it’s so varied that you can’t hesitate to find something you really fancy and if you’re entertaining – you know your guests aren’t going to be disappointed. Though saying that, the menu is large and there’s much pondering to be done. The last time I was at Bank, the menu was even bigger; it was so huge that the beginning of each meal was spent in quiet contemplation of your evening’s options for quite a long time. And then when the waiter took your order, many of the menu items had variations and you’d be quizzed on your exact combinations for even longer. Tonight was not just all about menu choices and eating, there was some serious catching up to do also. I hadn’t seen T for ages and ages, not since 15th September 2004 to be exact. Reminiscing recently about a certain pie in my handbag incident prompted an urgent call for a catch-up, how could we have let so much time pass? So for once when faced with a Bank menu, I eschewed the careful weighing up of tonight’s delights in favour of a perfunctory glance and down to the serious business of some heavy girl-talk. And considering this, I picked exceedingly well. I started with an old Bank favourite – foie gras and chicken liver parfait, apple and pear chutney, brioche. Which was as good as I remembered. This was followed by seared scallops, leeks, Jerusalem artichoke, chanterelles, Champagne velouté and for purely scientific reasons a side order of mash. And this was really, really good. The scallops were just perfect and vegetables were really flavoursome. And the mash was wonderful also. So maybe it’s not the extensive menu, it’s the food that makes Bank so good. I can also vouch for the consistency; Bank is probably the restaurant in London that I’ve visited the most. When I first started to work in the city, this become a bit of a regular haunt. And it was always Laurent Perrier Rosé all round! Well, of course! We always grabbed the latest Bank postcards, they always did clever things incorporating BANK into some black and white images. They became rather iconic. Whilst entertaining some clients at the end of 2002, I heard that Bank were starting a regular cooking class/ foodie event in the new year and immediately signed up. Christian Delteil ran these fabulous seasonal events throughout the year. We would turn up, sometimes dressed in chef’s whites though invariably not. We would watch Christian produce various dishes with some ultra fresh ingredients. After a few hours of this, he’d cooked us a fabulous meal and we’d sit in the private dining room and eat and drink and just have such a good time. A few of us started getting together outside of these events and trying out a few restaurants on our hit list, Hush, chef’s table at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s and Providores. One of our group even had Peter Gordon cook a dinner party for them at home - very flash!

Christian Deltei was so entertaining at these events; he was very French, slightly random and just a little eccentric. We always ate incredibly well and had a great time. I am not sure if they are still running these events, I did the full year and would recommend them.

It was really nice to be back in Bank and even better to catch up with T. We finished off by sharing a few secrets and a molten chocolate pudding with ice cream. It wasn’t Laurent Perrier Rosé this time, it was Kir Royales until I realised they had Chambord and it was Kir Imperials instead.

You can definitely bank on Bank, the best thing about them is not the chandelier or the menu but the food and for that they get two forks. And one of them will be the giant one on this postcard, of course I had to pick this one up!

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