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High Timber - Modern European

High Timber - Modern European


High Timber

8 High Timber Street

London, EC4V 3PA

Tel: 020 7248 1777


High Timber is owned by three South Africans, but at least one of them has been here a good long time – Neleen Strauss founded Vivat Bacchus – but she still retains the no nonsense and direct manner unique to those from a long line of land owning farmers. The other two are the husband and wife who own the Jordan wine estate, which helps explain the more-than-strictly-necessary 40,000 bottles that they keep in stock.

We visit dead in the middle of the cold snap, right at the height of the cancelled trains and headlines of 'commuter misery' - alongside photos of overjoyed, fat-faced toboganners. It is brutally, savagely cold as we descend the stairs by the Millennium bridge (north side) and walk the 100 yards to what must be, in the summer, one helluva spot. Right on the river, view of the Tate Modern and bridge, large terrace area. Date central. Downstairs there is a table in the cellar, and also a private dining room. These are rich and cosy and welcoming; full of pink cheeks and laughter - this is where you want to be in when it's -5 outside.

The main room upstairs is functional in style; simple, blocky wooden furniture and slate floor with stark, primary art on the walls. The booking is early because I just don't want to be out on such a beastly night.

The menu is not wholly South African however, more the English with French influence of the high-end eatery that still feels forthright and honest – there are no foams squidged across your plate. Starters are of the goose rilette, London cured smoked salmon, pumpkin and truffle risotto vibe, with myself plumping for a chicken, foie gras and black pudding terrine with shallot emulsion and my companion, Mary, having the Gratin of Scallops. The terrine is good with the buttery foie gras balanced against the plainer chicken and texture of the black pudding, but then the emulsion tasted like an extremely pickled onion – too strong and vinegary. Mary's scallops elicited the response, "I'm in heaven right now", so I think she liked them.

To follow there are steaks from the grill (of trumpeted Cumbrian provenance), as well as things like a vegetarian potje, poached turbot, loin of venison, with a sausage and mash casually thrown in to show how informal they are. Solid wintry fare. I choose a rib eye which comes on a wooden board with chips, a mushroom and onion rings, not to mention the finest knife to have graced my digits since I had that set-to with Bear Grylls. But my point is that these things came with the (very delicious) steak. As normal. Not side-dishes. The rise of the side-dish displeases me greatly, let's just leave it at that. Mary had the in-season pheasant with celeriac rosti and sprouts and chestnuts, bacon and gravy which is tasty and moist, and praised for featuring breast and leg (matron) – but not perhaps memorable in the same way the scallops were. We skipped pudding in a move that perhaps lacked journalistic fervour, but stomachs had reached their elastic limits.

All in all High Timber is a solid, steadfast and very well-managed place to eat with the added bonus of an expansive cellar. If you work in the area you should be meeting your clients and contacts there, you probably already do, but also consider using downstairs for larger team lunches. Think of it as a staunch dependable, a faithful that deserves a place on anyone's list of possible eatery destinations. Especially in the summer.

Daniel Evans, LG-Legal LLP

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