Famed for being where the City meets for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 1 Lombard Street has pioneered restaurant dining in London’s square mile since it opened in 1998 and was awarded the square mile’s first Michelin Star. We caught up with Søren to hear his thoughts on the restaurant world, 25 years of 1 Lombard Street and what the future holds.
How did it all start?
When I worked in the City in the mid-90s my friend Oliver Peyton wanted to open a restaurant and I decided to back him all the way. That became the most famous London restaurant of the 90s, Atlantic Bar and Grill. We then opened Coast, designed by Mark Newson and with Stephen Terry in the kitchen. It was a total hit. After that lucky start, I decided to open 1 Lombard Street which has now become a City institution. Other openings include Papillon, Chelsea and Noble Rot Mayfair. I have been very fortunate to be part of the London restaurant scene transformation over the past three decades.
Tell us about 1 Lombard Street and what makes this place so special?
1 Lombard Street is a timeless celebration of classic values. Great simple, honest food and great service in the best location in the City. We have avoided the trends but with regular minor tweaks managed to stay current. But what makes 1 Lombard Street unique is our commitment and investment in staff. I have always said that the single most important ingredient in a top restaurant is a great team committed to spoiling the guests.
What are you doing to celebrate 25 years?
We have had a few months of special treats on the menu and from the bar. Such as the £25 lobster menus and the anniversary cocktail list. We are creating a special 25th anniversary Lombard Martini with locally produced spirits which is pretty amazing – watch this space. Most importantly, we had a big party on 15 September to mark this milestone with oysters, a martini bar, lots of food and cocktails till very late at The Lombard Club.
How important is sustainability when it comes to the provenance of ingredients?
Hugely important. We source everything we can from the UK and as near as possible. There is an abundance of good quality ingredients here and no need to fly in much from abroad. We even use an English Vermouth in our Lombard Martini.
How has The City food scene developed over the last 25 years?
From nothing to something to everything. It has been exciting to have been at the front of the City’s dining revolution. When I opened 1 Lombard Street in 1998, I was told that we would fail as no one had ever developed an evening business in the City. Well, we have done just that and breakfast as well. Weekends are next. The City is increasingly exciting for visitors who don’t work in the City.
What has been the funniest/weirdest moment with a customer in the last 25 years?
When the then Lord Mayor (our neighbour) came over to comment on a noisy party on a Saturday night and discovered he knew quite a few of the guests. He ended up joining Michael Hesseltine, Elaine Page, Mick Jagger and Kate Moss for Nicky Haslam’s birthday party. He hadn’t expected that outcome!
Tell us about your new Saturday brunch?
The City is becoming a destination for weekend visitors. There is so much history and things to see and do. So, we have now decided to open with a big Saturday brunch in this spectacular big, bright neo-classical room. It might take a little time to establish but I think we have proven that we are here for the long term.
If you could award a Michelin star right now, who would it be to and why?
I really wouldn’t like to second-guess Michelin, but I love Maison Francois. It’s beautifully old fashioned with a contemporary feel and a passion that runs through everything from the top.
Top three favourite restaurants in London?
It’s an impossible question. I have so many favourites, but here are a few: Clipstone, Bouchon Racine and Brat.
What is next for 1 Lombard Street?
We are expanding with our GooseBox Catering business, bringing our restaurant kitchen into offices daily and beautiful event spaces. We may also bring a classic, all-day, high end brasserie to the West End.
To discover more, visit 1lombardstreet.com
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All imagery courtesy of Wonder Group / 1 Lombard Street