Much like Solange Knowles, myself and other unfairly underrated younger siblings everywhere, ‘Northbank’ as an area (the various patches of hubbub that sit on the other side of the river from the Southbank) is often overlooked in favour of its more iconic counterpart. Is that fair? Well yes, probably; there's much more there and it's been around longer. Should we let more tourists in on the secrets of this little haven in central London, and more specifically, the location of Cornish-cum-London-inspired eatery, Northbank Restaurant? No, we absolutely should not.
The Venue and Ambience
Promising the same views and level of quintessential London-ness as across the water, Northbank Restaurant enjoys a prime location directly opposite The Globe and The Tate Modern, sitting just at the foot of the Millennium Bridge. Though it's not a quiet part of town by any stretch, it's markedly less hectic than the forever-swarming Southbank.
On entering Northbank you can take a left into their sleek bar area - decorated with deep reds and luxe furnishings - or if you're there to eat, head right where you're welcomed into their modern dining space. The design overall isn't standout; it's a clean look with the odd botanical touch, the booths offer a nice sense of privacy, and the tables are big enough for larger groups. That said - and aside from the questionable paper tablecloths - it is a nice set-up, and a well set-out space with a sense of its own character. A strong key feature here are the long windows that line the back of the restaurant, looking out to the river and the twinkling lights of The Globe. You get the feel this place is a magnet for special occasions, or perhaps, a place just to impress. As such, the vibe is relaxed and mixed - and even though the food here is of a high grade - it's certainly not stuffy either.
I visited in January, but if you're lucky enough to be paying this place a visit in the warmer months, you can take advantage of their river-side terrace space, for both eating and drinking.
Simple interiors and bold plates at Northbank Restaurant.
The Food and Drink
I've known about Northbank for some time but never made it down to visit until now, and for some reason always imagined the food to be your standard 'we're in a great location so don't have to try too hard' fare. Classically - as is always the case when you judge something/one without rhyme or reason - I was completely wrong. The food here is top notch, and delicious. The recent appointment of their new head chef John Harrison - who has experience in renowned and regarded kitchens up and down the country - has paid off. Beautifully and creatively presented, Northbank has a strong menu of British dishes, with a notable Cornish influence.
Highlights were the starter - Braised Pork Cheek with Hog’s Pudding Scotch Egg and Brown Sauce (£10.50) - and the Seabream special (£14) for the main. The scotch egg was expertly served, bang on just the right texture and accompanied by a home-made, full-of-fruity-flavour homemade brown sauce. To finish, on recommendation I went with the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pie with Coffee Ice Cream and Toasted Peanuts (£8.50); a dense, devilishly-sweet dessert that has zero regard for your January diet. Overall; in my opinion, the food here is faultless.
Yes it has beautiful views, great service and a trek-worthy outdoor space come the summer, but the real star of the show here is the food. It's bold, it's well-priced and it's clever. Will the 'Northbank' area become more of a thing? That remains to be seen, but with this venue's new head chef in place, it's a safe bet that Northbank Restaurant will go from strength to strength.