Review of 'Prism: A Harvey Nichols Brasserie (NOW CLOSED)'

An interesting little brasserie in the former Bank of New York building just off of Gracechurch Street (pretty much opposite the iconic Lloyd's Bank Building). You could be forgiven for walking straight by it with only a small sign painted in white up on the wall outside and a small entrance. Entering it looks like you are going into a salon with a coat check and a few Harvey Nichol's food items on sale but after entering through the doors beyond you are in the main section of the restaurant with a bar and, often, live music served up by a piano at the far end. This is a rather noisy area but we were seated just outside to the left in a narrow room adjacent to the hall which is decorated in a rather kitsch fashion - fake grass, flowers and coloured lights. A far cry from the rather elegant main interior. We were seated at a glass table with transparent plastic chairs and offered the menu - A single piece of paper with a small on the side containing information about what is available in the bar. It was our impression that the bar is where the main traffic is here with the restaurant quite a minor second player. Having said that, we were here with a special dinner from of a Longhorn Beef Burger served with a side of chips which were all cooked to absolute perfection - The burger was delightfully tender and flavourful, served with a good number of vegetable toppings and the chips were fantastically crispy on the outside and soft on the inside (on the menu for £14.95 - and worth every penny, and probably more…). The mayo dip and side cache of sea salt and rough-ground pepper were also fantastic. Being (generally) non-drinkers the wine included with the deal was only drunk by my companion (a rosé) that she found a bit tart (though she is not really a wine fan). We did have a delicious fruit cocktail prepared very thoughtfully by the barman. I had the praline and cherry parfait (£6) which I found sweet with not a lot of flavour (other than the fresh cherries) but my companion loved her extremely sweet “40% Valrhona chocolate mousse, with roasted fig, honeycomb & toasted almond” (£6).

The other options on the menu for main courses is fairly standard French brasserie fare: “Steamed Plaice & mussels, sautéed spinach, split green beans, sauce vierge” (£19.95), “Slow cooked breast of veal, spinach & egg yolk ravioli, fresh peas” (£18.50), “Poached Smoked haddock, crispy Parma Ham, steamed samphire, poached hens egg” (£17.95), etc. They have a number of “Little Picks” as well which are basically things you would expect to see in a bar but with a bit of an up-market twist: “Organic vegetable crisps” (£1.95), “Mini chorizo, aioli” (£5.50), “Parma ham & celeriac remoulade” (£5.50), etc. The “Grilled octopus, lemon, chilli & fennel salad, saffron aioli” (£9.50) starter looked particularly good, perhaps next time…

The service throughout the meal was quite good if a bit too much at times - Being asked a few times the same thing can be annoying. The area of the restaurant we were in was quite quiet though the young couple with their child sitting at the table next to us were quite noisy with their young one insisting on playing load music on their game machine, threatening any chance we might have of hearing the delightful piano in the other room. To be honest, though, I think the probably was made worse by the shape and decor of the room…But, really, the neighbours are beyond the control of the restaurant and this is only a minor quibble.

A total of about £50 including a 12.5% service charge automatically added to the bill. Reasonable value and somewhere we certainly would reconsider visiting in the future.

Interestingly Prism have a periodic Monday movie night where you pay £15 for a cocktail and “bar food” to watch a movie (for example, “Ghost”, “Grease”, and “Love Actually”) in the main hall. This sounded to us like a good deal.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2010-08-21

Cuisine: French

Address: 147 Leadenhall Street, London, ENGLAND EC3V 4QT

Public Transport: TUBE Bank

Location: London (England) - Bank



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Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7256 3875