Restaurant review: 1901

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Sophisticated British cuisine in the heart of London’s Liverpool Street.

Just minutes away from the filthy glam of gay ghetto Shoreditch, 1901’s interior is truly grand with high ceilings and a huge winding staircase that places it perfectly in the period of its name. The dining room itself is even more special – giant ceilings and cathedral-like pillars look up towards a huge dome of intricate stained glass.

Under the dome is a beautifully presented central platform that serves as a bar, and occasional performance space – the outrageous Jonny Woo recently did a private event here.

Dining at 1901 is a grand experience but by no means stuffy or pretentious, with the friendliest staff I’ve come across in London. Service is personal, down-to-earth and not at all stiff – every staff member is a perfect host. I was on a first date with a handsome Australian man and felt completely at ease. There’s no strict dress code, so you’ll fit in comfortably with smart casual.

Everything at 1901 is beautifully presented, their impressive variety of signature cocktails being no exception. We tried the Fat Controller – Butterscotch schnapps, Baileys and Jagermeister, a potent creamy delight garnished with a cinnamon stick and cocoa powder.

1901 has a huge variety of special vodkas and whiskeys from around the world. We sampled Martinis with retro Polish vodka and tried Japanese Whiskey from the spectacular Whiskey trolley, both were surprisingly smooth and unique. Bar snacks of Oysters, cheeses and ham platters or lamb meatballs with chili mint offer some great variety.

The menu is best of British cuisine with ingredients from John Dory fillet in the Channel Islands to Aberdeenshire Beef. To start we had Wood Pigeon (Yorkshire) in a red wine sauce with spinach and carrot puree, along with Shetland Island King Prawn with crispy pork belly and truffle vinaigrette – an inventive combination of ingredients and textures that complimented each other well.

Mains were the Aberdeenshire Beef Wellington with spinach and trio of Suffolk Pork – belly, steak and cheek pieces, in a bacon cumin juice with potato and bean stew, again presented beautifully with strong contrasts of flavour and texture. Delicious, but the portions were pretty small. I just wish there had been more of everything.

Desert options are delicate and sophisticated. My hot pear with vanilla ice cream in a crisp wafer boat, with the surprise of a tiny copper saucepan presented moments later full of creamy rice pudding was top class. If you wanted to take advantage of the amazing selection of British cheeses at 1901, you could opt for a taster platter with grapes and spiced cranberry jam.

We were well looked after throughout by an expert vintner who matched up wines with each course. Especially good was a white French desert wine from the Loire valley.

A cocktail with 1901’s charming, handsome manager Sven (an elderflower martini with Hendricks Gin and some cucumber), was a refreshing end to a fantastic evening. A top spot for a really classy date with a guy or girl you want to impress effortlessly. And if it all goes wrong, Shoreditch is just around the corner…

1901 is open for breakfast, business lunch, a la carte dinner, drinks and cheese/wine/whiskey tasting events. Booking recommended.

40 Liverpool Street, City of London EC2M 7QN