Lorne is a classic example of a hidden gem. No really, trying to find it had me firing up City Mapper, Waze and Google Maps simultaneously, as I made my way snail-like to 76 Wilton Road. This was undoubtedly down to my abysmal navigation skills, but Lorne is actually quite unsuspecting located sweetly on a bustling street in Victoria. The restaurant, which opened in 2017, is the brainchild of a head sommelier and a chef from the Square and three Michelin starred menu. With impressively bulging CV’s at their helm, hopes were high as I sandwiched myself into a orange-coloured booth at the front of the delightfully airy restaurant.
The space, by Justin Gilbert of Coriander Buildings, shrieks homely yet minimalist and Scandi. Marble paves the way and paintings and books snake their way around the beige space, laden with pastel chairs. It’s a quirky, comforting restaurant that harks to summer vibes. And, upon entry, you feel far removed from the horn beeping of a busy Victoria, somewhat Narnia-esque.
Before going to any restaurant I scan for fellow reviewers opinions, in order to compare their experience to my own. I was pleased to see that the resistant and scrutinising Giles Coren had given it his nod of the head and thumbs up, as had Jancis Robinson. I can now safely say I understand why they left with a positive taste in their mouths.
Lorne, equipped with soothing interiors, feels like a place you’d come pre-theatre to chat excitedly over an amuse-bouche. The space exudes artsy feels and a freshness to the restaurant scene that is reflected on the seasonal, modern British menu. Waiting staff were theatrical in nature, bouncing off each other with larger-than-life grins on their faces. We were made to feel very welcome.
The seductive menu offers five choices for each of three courses and to excite the palette is a serving of bread accompanied by deliciously green and peppery olive oil. Where food is concerned, an Asian-influenced menu will always get kudos for turning my head, but on the other end of the spectrum I enjoy British, seasonal ingredients tremendously and found it arduous to select a dish from the menu from sheer want of everything. Included is potted brown shrimps, red mullet, stuffed courgette flower, Spring lamb and more, on a menu that flaunts ‘well-travelled’.
To begin, the chicken terrine was my victim, and boy was it a treat. In particular, my palette picked up and admired the fennel chutney and nectarine which partnered perfectly with the terrine and foie grass. An excellent summer choice, and a real nod to the seasonal adventures of the restaurant. Main consisted of a whole lot of to-ing and fro-ing between the Challans duck and roast cod, of which I chose the latter after picking the brains of our waiter, my companion and fellow diners. I was “one of those” people! The cod was delightful. But then give me olives and Espelette any day and I’ll have a smile on my face!
Evident that food and wine don’t fight for top spot and instead exist as equals, the on-site sommelier was quick to address our grape juice needs, offering up a bottle of Acustic Blanc which, with its multifaceted, complex personality and freshness, partnered exquisitely with each and every dish we selected. And lasted us the meal, surprising both myself and my guest! There’s a whole page of Rivesaltes from different vintages too and, overall, a brimming menu that reflects owner Katie’s mesmeric past with wine. Of course, there are other libations to pick from, from but why would you when there’s so much wine to indulge in?
Did we have dessert? Heck yes we did! The white peach jelly in fact, with loquat artic roll, poached peach and Champagne. To be perfectly honest, I think I just saw the word Champagne and ran with it, and rightly so, because it was the tastiest dessert I’d had in a long time. Utterly refreshing and ticking all the right summery boxes. What’s loquat you ask? Well, it is in fact a yellow species of flowering plant in the family Rosaceae – still lost? Yep, me too.
Lorne can be found at 76 Wilton Road, Pimlico, SW1V 1DE, www.lornerestaurant.co.uk