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A restaurant reborn - Test Driving One Leicester StreetWhat can you tell us about One Leicester Street?

Rising from the ashes of what was once St John Hotel and then, briefly, St John Chinatown, One Leicester Street is owned by the Unlisted Collective who are also behind the Town Hall Hotel and Viajante. The restaurant, bar and rooms have all been given a makeover, although the chefs and many of the front of house staff remain from the St John Days. Head chef Tom Harris won a Michelin star with St John Chinatown, so One Leicester Street certainly means business in the kitchen department.

Where is it?

Er, at One Leicester Street you won’t be surprised to hear. It’s a slightly awkward location for a restaurant of its calibre, sandwiched as it is between the myriad restaurants of Chinatown and the tourist traps of Leicester Square. Still, it’s certainly not an obscure location.

Where should I sit?

The dining room is fairly small with rows of tables running from the open kitchen at one end to the waiter’s station at the other. Dark coloured walls and low-level lighting give the room an intimate feel so wherever you sit, you’ll feel part of the action. A row of black leather banquette seating along one wall has the best tables, however, offering some added comfort and views through the windows on the opposite wall.

Where should I meet up with friends?

With its central location, the options for pre-dinner drinks are endless. We met at The French House in Soho on this occasion but if we were visiting again we’d meet at the restaurant’s upstairs bar, which is a real gem. It's a smart, peaceful room with comfy sofas and offers a tranquil escape from the hectic streets below. It also has a superb drinks selection, courtesy of the extremely knowledgeable and passionate head bar man David who even designed us our own cocktails. The bar serves some lighter food options too, so it’s well worth a visit.

Is bread included?

Barely had we sat down before slices of freshly baked sourdough and soft, salty butter were placed before us. One Leicester Street scores big points on the bread scale.

What should I eat?

As you’d expect from an ex-St John kitchen team, the menu is focused on seasonal British ingredients. The menu is organised by category – meat/offal, fish/shellfish, vegetables, cheese and puddings – with each one offering a range of small and large dishes, roughly indicated by price. The emphasis is very much on sharing but be warned, these aren’t the ‘small plate’ sizes we’ve become accustomed to in London over the last few years. It was actually refreshing to get decent sized portions, but if you’re sharing, just don’t order like you would in Polpo!

From the meat section we went for pig’s cheek ham with asparagus and egg yolk (£9.50); smoked ox cheek with beetroot and horseradish (£14); and grilled pork collar with borlotti beans and mustard (£16.50). All three were simply presented and unfussy, allowing the beautiful ingredients to speak for themselves.

From the fish section we chose a warm salad of cuttlefish, peas and mint (£9.50), and crab, fennel and monks beard on toast (£9). The vegetable section was a little light compared to the others (no complaints here) but we did have a gorgeous salad of tomato, barley and arrow grass (£7).

Everything we tried was cooked to perfection, clearly made from high quality ingredients and offered excellent value for money. While we probably could have managed without one of the larger meat dishes we still had room for an excellent dessert of salted caramel ice cream, apple and hazelnut (£8).

What about drinks?

A solid wine list begins at £25 a bottle for both white and red and has at least four that come in under £30 so you don’t have to break the bank to drink well. The bar upstairs is perfect for a pre or post dinner cocktail too.

Overall thoughts?

One Leicester Street happily continues the good work started by St John, with top notch seasonal British cooking at decent prices. With an excellent bar upstairs too, the whole place offers a welcome escape from an otherwise hectic part of town.

One Leicester Street is at 1 Leicester Street, London WC2H 7BL. Find out more about One Leicester Street

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Prices were correct at time of writing. Hot Dinners were invited to eat at One Leicester Street.

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