It doesn’t get much more British than pints outside the pub on a Thursday night, and this cultural-defining pastime is particularly evident when in the vicinity of Leadenhall Market. Surrounded by sky-scraping offices and major tube stations, this historic area is where many city dwellers choose to gather after work. And whether you’re one of the punters or wading through the crowds, Langbourns is always there to round off your Brit-ified East London experience.
The quintessentially English charm of Langbourns can be felt before even entering the building. To find it you’ll have to push past a gaggle of drinkers and make your way down an endearing cobbled alleyway; the kind that only exists in the most romantic depictions of London. Once your whole party has tracked down the entrance (which may take a while), the charm offensive continues inside the classic seafood restaurant with warm interiors featuring dark wood furnishings and leather booths of burgundy and hunter green.
Small details such as the accents of gold, linen napkins, plush bar stools with backrests and yellow-hued lighting all work together to elevate the casual yet sophisticated space. The diverse interiors are part of what makes this a great spot for anything from a big occasion to a relaxed affair. Our excuse? An appetite for some good old locally sourced meat and fish of the highest quality; and that’s the Langbourns promise.
Before getting carried away by the food menu, we scanned the extensive cocktail list, not expecting so many of the sips to catch our eye. After careful consideration, we opted for one of the signatures each - the Rum Dance (£12) and the London Summer Cup (£12) from the dedicated spritz section - in honour of the sun’s rare appearance that day. The former was a sweet vanilla-infused blend of rum and fresh pineapple juice, balanced out by a hit of citrus, and the latter was a perfectly poured Sipsmith G&T made extra refreshing with a wedge of orange.
We swiftly moved on to choosing the food, beginning with the traditional route and ordering some sourdough bread to start, accompanied by an unconventional spread: bone marrow butter (£6). The warm bread being served in loaf form sparked our animalistic instincts to tear off chunks and scoop it deep into the mound of salty butter. It was completely addictive and I can’t really think of anything that would have stopped us devouring the whole thing.
Next came the starters, which included a flavourful hunk of crispy lamb belly with charred broccoli (£10) that fell apart at the touch of our forks, and seared scallops (£13.50) on a bed of toasted fregola pasta, broad beans and salsa verde - a fresh, light alternative to the heartier lamb dish.
The feast continued with a monkfish and prawn curry (£20) and a dry-aged Scottish pork cutlet (£21) served alongside creamed spinach (£6.50) and truffle cauliflower cheese (£6). The curry contained a substantial amount of seafood, which was soft and coated in a satisfyingly thick coconut sauce, with sticky rice and crispy okra. The show-stopping slab of pork was succulent, featuring dill pickles and harissa tomatoes to add a satisfying depth of flavour, while the rich sides paired well with the meat too. I confess, all this left us far too full to try dessert - although we definitely had our eyes on the sticky toffee pud for next time.
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Above all, Langbourns is a treasure trove of sustainably sourced British produce. When it comes to the food, quality is never compromised, leaving you impressed after every visit and already anticipating your next. You can tailor your meal to any given occasion, whether that’s a decadent three-course birthday dinner or a quick post-work oyster before braving the train ride home. This spot also proves to Londoners that not all first-rate plates have to be extortionately priced, and good food should be accessible on a variety of budgets.
💰 The damage: £107 for a mega two-person feast complete with sides and cocktails.
📍 The location: 77-78 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0AS.
👌 Perfect for: Any day, any time - especially celebratory occasions or an elevated after-work bite.
⭐ Need to know: There's a fully-fledged bar for creamy Colchester rock oysters at £4 a pop.