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The Door restaurant

Square meal or Square Mile?

 

The plan seemed pretty simple. Late afternoon drinks at Soho House, then off to dinner at new restaurant The Door before bedding down at the Square Mile party. Usefully, The Door on the City’s Cornhill is near the party venue. So how, wonders Sat Bal, did it all go so wrong? (2 Sept '11)

Approaching The Door, first impressions are conflicted. Its heavy oaky portals open to a pleasing blend of mahogany and leather in an airy feature-rich space. The bar is striking - and not just because we like our alcohol. It’s an almost floor-to-ceiling lattice of presentation where £165-a-glass Louis XIII glows happily next to bottles of 125-year Chivas Regal at £30 a shot.    

The curvature of the bar is gold-leafed with words like ‘Mussels’ and ‘Crab’; entreaties to what lies ahead in this new oyster and steak palace.

So far, so good – so, where’s the conflict? Well, if people make the dining atmosphere, then the atmosphere at The Door tonight rivals that of the moon. That’s because there are no diners in. No cosy couples in shared intimacy, no bankers covertly sipping champagne and no post-work City employees lounging at the bar. This is a shame because The Door seems ideally placed to host loved-up diners à deux, bankers toasting in groups and post-5pm workers reclining in the high-back chairs around the expansive bar.

 

The assistant manager explains that they’d had a busy day and it seems we missed the crowds. It is after 9pm so it’s down to our merry band to recreate the atmosphere. We fairly have our run of the place, opting for a table on the upper level of the restaurant via the glassy stairway. 

This level offers an interesting vantage point. To the left, a glass door reveals a room heaving with vintage wine stock. To the right we get a bird’s-eye view of that bar set a-twinkle by suspended chandeliers.

No sooner are we settled into the comfortably padded chairs than Dorota arrives, announcing that she’s our host for tonight. Looking dapper in waistcoat, crisp collar and chrome tie, she wields menus for our inspection.

Talk soon turns to the oyster menu which offers three types and portions to get the show on the road. Kumamoto, Mourne Rock and Blackwater Wild are the choices at £1.75 each, £10 for six or £20 per dozen. The Kumamoto oyster from Kyshu, Japan turns out to be thefavourite. Laid on a vast bed of ice it looks tiny in its deep-cupped, fluted shell. The size belies its powerful taste; sweet and fruity with a brine backdrop. In the end, another 12 are procured.

 

It’s accompanied by a bottle of Domaine de Brosses 2009 Sancerre (£34.50). Now, when M.F.K Fisher wrote Consider the Oyster, circa 1940, dry whites like Pouilly Fuisse and Chablis were recommended as the ideal pairing with Kumamoto oysters. But we don’t care that Sancerre didn’t make it into Fisher’s list because it still emanates from the Sauvignon Blanc harvest that’s held as the starting point for oyster wine.

We could have gone for champagne, the ideal oyster juice – Dom Pérignon is a reasonable £150 (although Cristal is a less reasonable £250 but isn’t it always?) and Bollinger hums in nicely at £60. But we stick with traditional oyster wine wisdom, mindful that we have a party to drop by later so pacing is the order of the night.

To be frank, The Door’s chilled Sancerre and oysters have already induced slumped postures and raised spirits, raised further when the starter of Atlantic cod ceviche with chilly, lime and coriander arrived (£9) line-caught and excellent.

Keeping with the sea theme, this was followed by Wild Chilean seabass with samphire, tomato salsa (£22) and, yes, it was wild. Also around the table is Dorset lobster and truffle risotto with citrus nage, parmesan and chive crisp (£16).     

More wine focuses attention on the design work of BGW Design Studio and the venue’s muted grey, silver and black tones bring a no-rush tempo to our night. And this, is where things went wrong. It’s late - very late; should we abandon the rest of our night-plans? The Door let us create our own atmosphere, dessert is still to come – and that Dom Pérignon seems to be giving us the come-on.

Sorry, Square Mile, for missing your party and shame on you, Deividas Grimalauskas, for hijacking our night. For readers who’d like to give Mr Grimalauskas a piece of our mind (or maybe make a reservation) get in touch on:

www.thedoor-group.com

Tel: 020 7929 1378

General manager - Deividas Grimalauskas

Executive chef - John Murphy  

The Door, 33 Cornhill, London, EC3

 

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