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Tables in the conservatory dining room at Bank, Westminster.

On Friday, Erika and I found ourselves in Zander Bar, home to the longest bar (48 metres) in Europe and quite possibly some of the best cocktails in London. They can’t be too proud of the longest bar accolade as on this and a previous visit only 1/4 of it was open; the remaining 36 metres, stretching down to the light, airy restaurant at the back was uninhabited.

The bar itself is a place you’d be happy to spend an hour or two, sipping away at their glorious espresso martini (£7.80) or perhaps a ‘perfect blossom’ (also £7.80), a mix of mandarin blossom vodka, elderflower, fresh strawberries and apple juice. The staff are attentive and friendly, although this is not too surprising given there could only have been thirty five people there, and certainly know how to mix drinks. The area itself is a bit dark, and being 6ft 2 I’m not a fan of the low tables but you soon forget about that, quite possibly due to the ease with which the cocktails go down.

After a couple of drinks we took our seats in the restaurant. Many of the tables are situated in a conservatory which affords wonderful views over a courtyard (complete with fountain) and the three 19th century mansions which make up the adjoining hotel and apartment complex. It wasn’t a busy evening with only a few other diners but the restaurant felt neither empty nor quiet and it ensured that we got a good table and had our waiter’s attention throughout. The menu is modern European with a good selection of pasta, fish and meat dishes, priced on average at around £16 for a main.

Tempura king prawns with chilli jam at Bank, Westminster

Duck spring rolls with plum & pineapple sauce at Bank, Westminster

The waiter was quick to bring some bread (a choice of foccacia or ciabatta – neither of which were worth writing home about) and take our orders. For starters, Erika had tempura of king prawns with chilli and lime jam and I ordered crispy duck spring rolls with a plum and pineapple dipping sauce. The prawns were gigantic and perfectly cooked, encased in a light and crisp tempura batter. My spring rolls were very densely filled with duck and and the spring roll casing was crispy but not oily. The plum and pineaple sauce was disappointing; I much preferred Erika’s chilli jam.

Tandoori-baked lamb at Bank, Westminster

The plates were cleared away and our main courses arrived quickly. I had tandoori baked lamb cutlets with bombay potatoes, whilst Erika had salmon with an asparagus, crab and pea shoot salad and citrus dressing. The lamb was really well marinated: I could taste the ginger, cumin and coriander and it restored my faith in ordering lamb at a restaurant. So many times in the past I have ended up with just two mouthfulls of chewy meat. The accompanying bombay potatoes (served with some thick slices of onion too) were nice but not exceptional, although well cooked and spicy, and complemented the lamb well.

Salmon with asparagus and crab & pea-shoot salad with citrus dressing at Bank, Westminster

Erika’s salmon was perfectly cooked as was the asparagus it sat on. The citrus dressing, with pieces of orange and grapefruit, really lifted the whole dish. Erika also had a side order of the most delicious, creamiest mashed potato – the type of mash you can only ever get in a restaurant because you could never allow yourself to use so much butter at home!

There’s a lot of choice on the dessert menu and we were nearly tempted into ordering but were put off by the arrival of a large noisy group sitting near us. When ordering dessert I have an internal countdown timer which starts when given the menu. At first I want to order the most sickly sweet pudding but I eventually begin to feel full and come to the realisation that more food probably isn’t a good idea. Thankfully for my waistline our waiter was busy seating the group and by the time he came over, we’d both changed our minds (however, from previous experience Kitty definitely recommends the sticky toffee pudding!). The bill was requested, dutifully delivered and paid and then it was off out into the streets of St. James’. I’d have quite liked to swap the tube journey home for a quick walk to one of their apartments!

Bank Restaurant and Zander Bar
45 Buckingham Gate
London
SW1E 6BS

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