Sauterelle is a French restaurant, owned by the D&D group (who own many restaurants in London – Plateau, Fish Market, Avenue, Coq d’Argent, Patternoster Chop House and many others) on the mezzanine level of the Royal Exchange. The Royal Exchange is an impressive building by the bank tube station next to Bank of England and inside there are a few cafes and restaurants and the most upmarket dining can be found in Sauterelle. The only disadvantage of having the restaurant where it is though is that they don’t have their own toilet and for a toilet you need to go outside throughout the royal exchange building. The restaurant seems very quiet and secluded from the buzz of the royal exchange main café and all the other restaurants. The main chef at Sauterelle is Arnaud Delannay, who joined in May 2012 and who comes from south of France which has influenced his cooking and he brings a classic Provençale style to Sauterelle.
Sauterelle is open for lunch and dinner and I went there for lunch with a big group of friends. The thing that was really bad during our meal was the service. This is probably the worst service I have ever received in a London restaurant, it was that bad. The ladies were absolutely unatentive, it took us ages to leave our coats, ages to take our coats when leaving as they were not around a cloakroom, and I was actually so annoyed I took my own coat out from the cloakroom as I could not wait for them. Also we were there for more than three hours as they were so slow in clearing our plates, bring us the next course, and I constantly (not once, not twice, but many many times) needed to remind them to clear the plates, bring us more water, bring us more wine (our wine glasses were empty and we still had a half full bottle and no one was pouring us wine), give us the desert menu! This place was unbelievable and I never thought any restaurant could be this bad! They had so many people working there and not that many full tables and yet they managed to get it so wrong.
The menu apparently changes seasonally and Arnaud likes to focus on clean, incisive flavours and unfussy presentation. Our amuse bouche was a little cracker with cream and dried tomato and was not particularly impressive. The menu featured six starters and you can see pictures of the three all of us ordered. Tom and I went for “Cornish Crab with Pickled pink ginger, agrume, fennel, avocado & lime”, and the rest of the people chose either “Scallops with Pea purée, tomato fondue, Alsace ventreche & lemongrass” or a starter with beetroot. All plates were decorated differently but with precision and care and they were bright and beautiful. I liked the crab and the samphire and grapefruit and orange but was not that keen on the avocado and lime dip on the side of the plate and I did not like the taste. Everyone else seemed to enjoy their food and everyone cleared their plates.
The menu also featured six main courses, and the only ones you can’t see in the pictures and we did not order were the main courses with grouse and lamb. Most of us including myself went for the “White truffle risotto with Aged parmesan & mascarpone”. It was a creamy and nice risotto and there was a lot of it, so I could not finish the whole thing. They had not been stingy with the portion, but there was very little truffle on top and I could not really smell or feel the truffle too much. I did enjoy it, but I thought it would be better. Please see other beautifully plated dishes that my friends ordered, “Cod with Spiced Puy lentils, silky mash potato, baby carrot & thyme”, “Lemon sole with Scallop & citrus mousse, crushed new potato, brown shrimps & caper” and “28 day dry-aged beef from Rare Breed Company which was Served with gratin dauphinois, bone marrow, sauté girolles & spinach”. Everyone had positive comments about food, generally liked it and finished their plates. We also ordered a few sides, “Heritage potatoes with aged parmesan”, “Salade verte”, “Tomato & red onion salad’ and red cabbage. I loved the potatoes with parmesan, very tasty, but most things with cheese are! The tomato and red onion salad was very plain. It needed a lot of salt and pepper to make it exciting. The red cabbage was quite nice.
I was very impressed with their sorbet selection for desert, I had a guava, cherry and lemongrass sorbets, which were unusual and rare to find in restaurants. The other dishes that we ordered were :Cold chocolate fondant” with Honeycomb, milk ice cream, “Vanilla Crème brûlée, blood orange marmalade” and “Black forest” – or Dark chocolate sponge, griottine cherry, vanilla Chantilly, edible flower. The Black forest desert was the most impressive one, but overall people liked their deserts although Tom did think it was interesting how the chocolate fondant was cold this time. See also a plate of petit four we got.
The food is good at Sauterelle, they do French food well, the menu has different things (meat, fish, vegetarian options), all the plates and beautifully decorated, but the service here was so bad, despite how good the food was I don’t want to go back. The Service takes away m or M away from this restaurant rating.
Date: 18/ 12/ 13
Location: City of London
Price for 6 people with alcohol: £482.61