New London eaterie from the ETM Group makes its home in the Montcalm Royal London House Hotel

A frustrating part of London’s social life in the 90s was its ‘door policies.’ For crimes that ranged from being unfashionably late, to unfashionably poor, to simply downright unfashionable, you could find yourself on the wrong side of the velvet rope with no right of appeal. The new millennium and the explosion of hipster bars, restaurants and private members clubs largely consigned that problem to history. Although not completely as I discovered when putting my name down to review the new rooftop restaurant Aviary at the Montcalm Royal London House Hotel in the City. Being marginally slow off the mark resulted in that velvet rope extending across that door quicker than I could ask if I could bring a plus one.

Nevertheless the wonderful Kara from Roche is nothing if not accommodating and I was offered a table at its hotel sibling Burdock. Located on the ground floor, Burdock, represents a change of direction for the ETM team of Jugged Hare and One Canada Square fame with its café style all day dining offering. Burdock proudly proclaims that it has ‘eschewed regimented three-course dining’ in favour of sharing plates; not a fair trade in my books but one worth exploring regardless.

I’m an ETM fan which has seen some very favourable reviews, but means that I have rather high expectations. Burdock is located on the ground floor of the Montcalm just to the left of hotel’s main entrance. While it’s a pretty enough space complete with dark woods, coppers and concrete countertops, the ambience is a little flat. It feels like a waiting area. Or a hotel reception.

The sharing plates menu offer something new with a few old favourites. Our lovely waiter took the lead and brought us a selection, some of which were very good such as the venison meatballs with blue cheese and pickled garlic, and the octopus, potato and paprika. Some dishes were less successful such as the barley risotto with shimeji and leeks which veered perilously close to a breakfast dish, and the monkfish kiev, which was overdone and lost a lot of the flavour of this great fish. The outstanding surprise was the Kentucky fried skate wings which were simply divine. We could quite happily have ordered another plate.

Burdock offers a desserts in sundae form so we tried the Bourbon on Bourbon of which there was a little too much cream and too little bourbon, and the Not a Snickers Bar, which was one for diners with a very sweet tooth.

Burdock is a nice little spot which given its locale, all-day dining options and decent food offerings will do very well. It will never threaten the appeal of its rooftop sibling Aviary, but it does give an option for those who can’t get past those velvet ropes.

On a scale from * to *****

Wining and dining ***

Boozing and schmoozing ***

Serving and pouring ***

Address: Montcalm Royal London House Hotel, 22-25 Finsbury Square, London EC2A 1DX


Phone: 020 3873 4050