Leadenhall Market is an area of London that often gets overlooked. Not quite slick enough to be considered the City (though clearly in the territory of suited office workers) and stuck on the uncooler side of Shoreditch, it's a bit of a blind spot when it comes to London’s dining scene. The covered Victorian arcade, though incredibly ornate and beautiful, is sadly crammed full of uninspiring restaurants – Eat, La Tasca and Leon, to name just a few. But Factory House, just outside of Leadenhall on Lime Street and open for seven years, is still going strong.
Factory House is not the most obvious of restaurants from the outside (I walked past it twice) and once you’re in you descend a spiral staircase into a low-lit basement dining room. Having recently undergone a revamp, the bar and restaurant, which is part of the small independent Davy's Wine Bar group, is one of the few unique places in the area. On a Tuesday, the place is in full swing and the décor harks back to the area’s history: think station clock, dark wood-panelling and honey leather banquettes. One thing that is distinctly un-Victorian is the Disclosure/Katy Perry blasting out in the bathrooms. Great if you’re after a party spot, but maybe a little off-putting if you’re not.
From reading previous reviews, the restaurant seems to have taken the hint and ditched a strong ‘Victorian industrialist’ theme - gone is the ‘clocking-in’ system and extensive menu with pages of dishes. Instead they’ve chosen to focus on what they do best – great steak cuts cooked on a Josper grill as well as traditional British mains, paired with well-chosen wines. There are starters of chorizo and piri piri prawn skewers (£9.75) as well as BBQ scallops with smoked chilli sauce and pea and basil purée (£11.45). For mains we order the Pavé Rump 200g steak (19.95), which is aged for 35 days and arrives as a neat thick door-stopper slab. My friend orders the flatter sirloin at 270g (£28.50), which is a lot bigger and cooked with more of an even consistency.
Staff couldn’t be more helpful and guide us through the plates. We order sides to share of charred broccoli with almonds lemon and chilli (£4) and hand cut chips (£4.50). The wine list features seasonal red and whites from Piedmont as well as year-round staples and expert advice from staff – you’d expect nothing less from a wine merchant’s. There’s also a new lunch menu, with a different special each weekday: go on Monday for the slow-cooked Shepherd’s pie or Thursday for the spit roasted porchetta with bourbon BBQ sauce. Afterwards, there's a small bar in the restaurant for drinking in after your meal, or you can stumble back above ground to the market and continue the night drinking at the many wine bars and pubs.
The DesignMyNight Digest
A streamlined menu and focus on a killer wine list has pulled the Factory House back from the brink (Katy Perry aside). With winter setting in, The Factory House might be your cosy new basement hideaway.