‚Äú The Zetter / St John¬ís Square / 86-88 Clerkenwell Road / London EC1M 5RJ / United Kingdom / T: +44 (0)20 7324 4444 / F: +44 (0)20 7324 4445 ‚Äě
I decided to book a table at The Zetter a few months back after seeing it appear on the Masterchef series as one of the venues that the finalists have to work a lunch service at, and seeing some of the dishes that they produced.
I booked a table for dinner through toptable for a friday night, for my fiancee and I at 7pm, and after a simple booking service through toptable, i recieved a phonecall from the restaurant on the day to confirm and also to say that they look forward to seeing us later that day. It was a nice touch and i have to say i appreciate the gesture from restaurants, even though i am aware it is not just for my benefit.
We got a bit lost after leaving the tube station, and i had to call and advise them that we would be a little late, and ask if they could direct me. The receptionist was very helpful, and told me that it wouldnt be a problem holding the table.
When we arrived, I realised that the Zetter was also a hotel, and was a little concerned that maybe the restaurant was going to be a little under par, I was very wrong.
We took our time ordering as there were lots of tasty sounding dishes to choose from, and although they offer a set menu, we went for the a la carte option as toptable offered a 50% off food deal. Whilst we waited our very friendly waitress brought some fresh bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, which although a little salty was very tasty.
For my starter I had their signiture dish, which is Garlic-roasted prawns with chorizo, sweet potato and glazed pork belly. I saw this dish on the program and really wanted to try it, and I was so happy i did, it was incredible.
For mains i had the Rib eye steak, which although good, wasnt quite as impressive as the starter, it was tasty, and well cooked (medium rare), but a little tough for my liking.
Dessert was another joy, I went for the Valrohna chocolate cake with berry compote, and it was intensely chocolatey and very sweet.
We ordered a middle of the range white wine with our meal, and if I remember rightly it was around ¬£19-21 and quite good, which isnt a bad price for central London.
The bill came to roughly ¬£65 which I was happy to pay, although if I had not recieved the 50% discount I might have been a little underimpressed, as there are other restaurants that would have far outshone this one for the full price.
The service I recieved from start to finish was of a very high standard, and of course I tipped accordingly. The receptionist was also very helpfull. Another thing I liked was that the kitchen could be seen from where we were seated, and the hardworking guys in there were clearly professionals, and good at their work.
A very pleasant overall experience, and although we didnt use it, there is also a comfy looking moderista bar that would be good for a few cocktails. if you can get a discount on toptable, which they are still offering, then it is definately worth a visit.
I was very excited at the opportunity to try another London restaurant with fancy dishes that I would not normally go to. It was a little treat arranged by work. The Zetter specialises in modern Italian food - it does not present itself with a menu chocked full of pasta and pizza dishes. Located in St John's Square in the city of London, it is ideally placed for business lunches. The Zetter offers breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The Zetter is also a hotel - offering modern and simple accomodation in the heart of London.
When we arrived at the restaurant, I was actually quite impressed. The Zetter restaurant truly benefits from being very spacious, very high ceilings and huge windows that stretch from floor to ceiling which make the place extremely well-lit and positive in feel. We were seated at a table for four right by the window - overlooking St John's Square. It might not be the most attractive site in the world, but it almost gave the feel that you were dining outside - something that I could imagine being quite nice and uplifting on a cold and sunny winter day.
The lunch and dinner menu may look a little scary to those who do not frequent these type of restaurants, as nearly every dish seems to have a word in its description that is unfamiliar. Appetisers range from Pasta and Chick Pea Soup with Pecorino to Buffalo Mozzarella with Pomegrate, Sage & Rocket to Duck Liver Pate with Crostino & Picked Fig and Trevisano, Pear, Gorgonzola & Wet Walnut Salad. Anyone need a translator yet? With prices ranging from ¬£4.50 to ¬£6.50, you may well want to have one handy before you add one of these to your bill.
For those less adventurous, there is a Porcino and Prosecco Risotto - which is basically a rice dish with mushrooms. Then there is a Tagliatelle with Mussels, Borlotti Bean and Tomato Sauce, which is basically a pasta dish. And then there a couple of pizzas - but not as you know them. With ingredients such as roast butternut squash and figs, you may well wish you have gone to Pizza Express instead. Priced between ¬£10 and ¬£12, prices are indeed very reasonable.
The main dishes include such things as Rare Grilled Venison with Butternut Squash and Chilli Gratin, Grilled Plaice Fillet with Cauliflower Fritters & Bagna Cauda Sauce and Poached Corn Fed Chicken with Cotechino Sausage, Lentils & Mostarda di Frutta. These main dishes can be accompanied with rocket salad, mixed leaf salad, sauteed spinach or rosemary potato. Priced between ¬£14 and ¬£15, these dishes are the most expensive option on the menu.
Finally, there are the desserts. This included Bombolino, which are Italian custard-filled donughts and a Blueberry and Hazelnut Tart. Desserts come in at ¬£5.50 to ¬£6.50.
Upon arrival, we were seated at our table and immediately served with a plate of six little square pieces of bread and some olive oil for dipping. In a way that already wound me up a little, like it winds me up anywhere - 6 pieces of break for 4 people and I am already starving - yet, I would never dare take two pieces of bread. One of my colleagues was also a little disappointed at the presentation, as we were not given any side plates - she was more than concerned about making a mess - although that is hardly an issue on a paper tablecloth.
The bread was quite nice - it was firm and moist, with Italian herbs and sea salt on the top. It was a little too salty - and if I came here again, I would probably be inclined to take off some of the salt before eating it. The lack of side plates does become a bit of an issue as well, especially when you do not want to embarrass yourself in front of your companions by dropping bread and olive oil all over the place.
Examining the menu, I did find it rather hard to pick an appetiser. It was all the more to my relief when it came to ordering that everyone went straight for mains. One of my colleagues ordered the Risotto, another one the Tagliatelle, another one the hake and I ordered the plaice fillet. In addition, we decided to have a side of spinach and a side of rocket salad.
We did not order any wine, as I do not drink and we had a full afternoon and evening of work ahead of us. A couple of bottles of still water did the trick for us. The Zetter does, however, have a very extensive wine list.
We were served about 20 minutes. All the food was presented very lovely. When the food arrived, I immediately wished, however, that I had ordered the Tagliatelle. On my plate I found a whole fish, with head and tail (and rather revoltingly, a bunch of fish eggs at the bottom of the stomach section) - and whilst that does not put me off from eating it in the privacy of my own home, I realised I had a struggle with fishbones ahead of me.
In fact, the struggle with fishbones was worse than I expected. Even though I carefully pulled the white bits of fish off the top, I still had bones in almost every bite, which I then had to politely pull out of my mouth. The fish was absolutely gorgeous, though - succulent and tasty - and really nice with its Bagna Cauda sauce, which is basically an anchovy based sauce. While it is probably not everyone's thing, it went really well with the fish and the lovely cauliflower fritters, which were of medium firmness and only lightly coated in batter - just in the right way. I had some of the sauteed spinach as well - which was really only briefly placed in a pan, as it was still very firm in texture and tasted lovely with olive oil and garlic flavouring.
My colleague's hake was really huge - and looked much easier to eat than my place, as the bones were really confined to the middle. Her minor quibble with the restaurant was that she had not been told that her dish came with spinach already - even though she specifically asked the waiter before ordering a side of spinach. Struggling with my fish, I was having a bit of food envy.
The Tagliatelle looked gorgeous - a huge plate of pasta with tomato sauce - with sage leaves and mushrooms - just absolutely what I would have been in the mood for. The dish was so huge that my colleague could not finish it at all.
The Risotto did not tempt me much - it looked very much like a huge plate of mushy rice in a slimy sauce - but I was assured by my colleague that it was quite nice.
After finishing my main, I still felt like I had not eaten anything at all - I was still starving. My colleagues, on the other hand, all seemed to be very satisfied and even stuffed. The waiter brought out the dessert menu - and to of my colleagues did not give it much of any attention. They did not want to share a dessert either - so me and my other colleague, who coincidentally had decided on the same dessert, ordered the Blueberry and Hazelnut Tart, which comes with a side of mascarpone. Coffees and teas followed as well.
The waiter brought out the dessert and four sets of spoons and forks. The tart was in fact quite large - enough for two hungry punters, not really for four, however. Funnily enough, once the tart arrived on the table, everyone did dig in to have a taste or two. The tart was definitely the best thing on the menu - with blueberry filling in the middle and crumble and whole hazelnuts at the top - and spiced that gave it a distinct Christmas-flavour. It was not very sweet - and the mascarpone was just right to take away a little of the dryness of the tart. I very much enjoyed the dessert, but still walked away hungry after it was finished.
Another minor quibble was when the bill arrived - the rocket salad appeared on the bill - but it had never been delivered. It was not an issue, however, to get it removed from the bill - and the waiter was quite apologetic about it.
I did not see the final bill, as I did not pay for it - but looking at the overall prices, I would say that a three-course meal with wine at The Zetter would amount to approximately ¬£40 per person.
I have never stayed in the hotel personally, but have been inside one of their rooms when a friend of mine visited London. It is a modern hotel, minimalistic in terms of what it has to offer. Due to it's location in St John's Square, all rooms are relatively quiet - they do not suffer from the London street noise that some establishments seem to suffer from. However, as long as the restaurant is open, rooms on the lower levels might suffer from the noise from the restaurant. Make sure to ask for a St John Square room - and ask for one higher up in the building if you are sensitive to noise.
The rooms are quite small in size, but they are clean. I have only seen the St John Square room. Like the restaurant - it had lovely large windows stretching from the bottom of the wall to the top of the ceiling. The bed looked very inviting - with luxury bed sheets and a proper blanket for the night - I could just have dived straight in.
The rooms are equipped with everything that a traveller needs. There is an iron and ironing board, there is a blowdrier. For those who need access and connection to the world at any time, The Zetter also offers PC and internet connection (although that will cost you extra). A slight disadvantage is that there is no coffee or tea maker in the room - but there is one on every floor, if you simply need your caffeine fix.
The one thing my American friend was most impressed about was the shower - it is a proper power shower, apparently, which is something that is only found in high class hotels in London usually. There are free toileteries in the bathroom - and the towels are of high quality. No bathrobes, though, which is a bit disappointing in a hotel where ordinary rates start at ¬£140 a night and range up to ¬£329!
While I liked the layout of The Zetter 's restaurant in terms of it being very light and spacious, it also felt a little sterile, almost like a hospital. My dish was quite nice - but due to the huge amount of bones in my fish, I would not ever order it again if I went back to this place. In general, I do think the dishes are well-presented and probably all quite tasty, but what I was missing at The Zetter, was that special something that would impress me. The service was good, but not better than anywhere else. The food was good, but I can think of better. As The Zetter is rather pricey for anyone to leave hungry, I would probably not come back here unless someone else arranged another business lunch here.
As for the hotel - as lovely as it is, I would not opt to stay here at those prices. It is probably worth it if you can find a deal at about $80 to ¬£120 a night - but anything above that for one of the more standard rooms is simply too much. I can't speak for the more superior rooms - they might be worth the extra price tag (if you can afford it).
All in all, I have to say that The Zetter is rather like a mixed salad. Some bits are lovely, some are disappointing - making both the restaurant and the hotel decidingly average.
The Zetter also has hotel rooms available.
St John's Square
86-88 Clerkenwell Road,
London EC1M 5RJ
Tel: +44 (0)20 7324 4444
Tel: 44 (0)20 7324 4455
Tel: +44 (0)20 7324 4444
At the Zetter restaurant, fresh seasonal ingredients are used to create modern takes on classic Italian recipes, accompanied by an extensive wine list sourced from around the world. Pop in at any time of day to enjoy anything from a quick panini and espresso at breakfast to a four-course blow-out dinner with friends or family. Then again, you could just pull up a stool at the curvaceous black-marble bar, order your favourite cocktail, and soak up the atmosphere around you. And with large windows for watching local life go by, and outside tables on St John's Square during the summer months, it is hard to think of a more satisfying place in which to savour a lazy weekend brunch. The Zetter restaurant is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner; all day bar snacks; and weekend brunches. The Zetter has two private party rooms, catering for parties of between 10 and 50 people.