Shepherd’s is now back on the scene. This truly iconic and favourite haunt of politicians, lobbyists and journalists nestles close to the Westminster Village in Marsham Street, an area curiously short of quality eateries – until now that is!
So highly regarded was Shepherd’s that when it closed its doors for business last year it prompted an outpouring of grief from no less a giant of a man Adam Boulton, a dedicated vegetarian no less. He bemoaned it a “sad day” indeed “for the best restaurant near Parliament” and its closure did not escape London’s oldest magazine, the Spectator, adding tearfully “the end of an era for Westminster lunchers.”
But fear not the “Westminster institution”, as dubbed by Harden’s, is back with a bang and better than ever under the watchful stewardship of Lionel Zetter.
Not resting on its laurels Shepherd’s has put together a veritable ensemble of A listers right on top of their game. Head chef is the hugely talented Paul Croasdale, fresh from the upmarket Berners Tavern, and he is joined by sous chef Owen Williams, formerly of the two Michelin starred restaurant, Michael Wignall at The Latymer. The bar is overseen by Goran, ex head barman from the Ivy and Brasserie Zedel who will be working his magic behind the famous Shepherd’s Bar. Overseeing the entire restaurant is General Manager, Philippe Lhermitte whose most recent experience has been the launch and subsequent running of the phenomenally successful Grain Store in Kings Cross. We met and chatted to Philippe about the history of Shepherd’s and how they have created a team that have many years of experience working together to produce a flawlessly delivered dining experience.
Tradition however is being respected. The menu unashamedly boasts all your British favourites but done like you have never tasted before. For starters you can plump for a fresh and zingy English Beetroot Salad or you can savour the mouth wateringly succulent and altogether hypnotic Roast Scottish Scallops. For mains you have the light and utterly delicious Suckling Pork Belly or you can go all out and order the melt-in-mouth Chateaubriand and let’s not leave out of course the signature dish – Shepherd’s Pie – which needs no introduction. This is a menu that does not ignore the vegetarians who can delight in the Pearl Barley Wild British Mushrooms or Chargrilled Artichokes.
Like the menu the decor of this charming haunt screams: tradition and Britishness but somehow with a mischievous twist. The restaurant has 60 covers with an extensive bar area and two private dining rooms. The colours match perfectly with House of Commons style green leather banquettes and discreet British racing green wallpaper.
The bar adds a homely charm with burnt orange chairs and low-level tables. No matter what your favourite tipple happens to be you can rest assured it will be stocked here. The wine list is fully comprehensive and has a broad mix of fine wines and more affordable fare to suit every possible fancy. Philippe having been brought up in the restaurant business has a discerning palate and a knowledge of the industry to get you the best wines at some amazing prices.
In bringing back Shepherd’s Lionel Zetter said he wanted to bring it “back to its best: superb food, great service, an elegant ambiance and a discreet environment.”
The SLOAN! Review
We thought the idea of English Venison with blueberries and a blueberry sauce with a hint of sorrel and red wine peeping through was a delightful way to start the evening. My dining companion had a chicken liver parfait with treacle brioche which is an absolute must to try. The light flavourful and sharp combination mix with a sweet treacle brioche demonstrated why shepherds keeps such a reputation of sophistication elegance and style.
For the main course we just had to try the signature dish of shepherd’s pie which is possibly the best shepherd’s pie my dining companion had ever had. The mini Goosnargh duck pie was a great competitor as a side dish but it would definitely be too rich as a main dish. The cauliflower and cheese was soft cheesy and full of flavour.
Our other main choice was pork belly with quince celeriac and bacon crumbs which contrasted with a soft belly meat and a barbecue pork cheek that fell apart perfectly on cutting it. The celeriac absorbed the juice flavours providing crunchy texture as a superb compliment to the succulent meat on the plate.
To finish we ordered the organic peanut parfait which melted in the mouth with a consistency that pairs well with a crunch of the nuts and the sweet taste from the warm chocolate mousse. We also choose the lemon meringue with lemon curd and ginger biscuit. This was an unusual twist on a classic dish. The lemon had a caramelised burnt sugar topping over a very soft meringue with lemon curd on a bed of gingerbread.
To accompany our meal we had the Alfonzo cocktails. We choose two cocktails, Dubonnet and champagne and also had the Highlander which is a combination of honey, Macallan whiskey and a hazelnut liqueur. We also had a glass of rose with a main course. The wine list was interesting and extensive. A bottle for every budget without compromising on taste.
It was lovely to note that there is semi secluded seating in the main dining area. If this is not enough though the Shepherd’s has a small private dining room for 8 and a larger private dining room that can hold 20 comfortably, or even up to 40 in a theatre style seating. Shepherd’s with its low ambient lighting and delightful staff bring a sophisticated, refined vibe to Westminster.
Shepherd’s of Westminister
Marsham Court, Marsham Street, London SW1P 4LA
020 7834 9552