The glory days have returned to culinary institution Shepherd’s of Westminster, reports Venetia van Kuffeler
Tucked away on the ground floor of art deco Marsham Court, Shepherd’s of Westminster is a long-time favourite haunt for MPs, journalists, lobbyists and spin-doctors. The restaurant’s culinary pedigree began in 1993 as part of the Langan’s restaurant group (owned by restaurateur Peter Langan, Sir Michael Caine and, of course, Richard Shepherd), but locals were horrified when the institution closed its doors in 2013. After an 18-month absence, veteran lobbyist, public affairs expert and publisher (of Zetter’s Political Companion) Lionel Zetter stepped in to return the restaurant to its glory days.
After an impressive renovation, Shepherd’s has a clubby feel with a cosy atmosphere that immediately draws guests in. The buzzy bar area invites guests for a drink or even an informal bite to eat in front of the big screen, while keeping abreast of the latest parliamentary news. No doubt many an indiscretion has been whispered over the punchy house cocktail selection. Perhaps a Diplomatico Fashion (Diplomatico rum, orange bitters, sugar) or Shepherd’s Little Sister (Champagne, rosemary infused gin, elderflower cordial and grapefruit bitters)? It’s no wonder that last year’s General Election fever reached its height at Shepherd’s, which hosted the election party of the year with queues down the street long into the night.
Given the restaurant’s provenance, it’s no surprise that Shepherd’s serves hearty, British food. Championing the best produce from around the British Isles, head chef Karl Goward spent three years at St John, and then opened St John Bread & Wine. The menu is small and relatively simple: six starters and mains to choose from, and of course, it’s tremendously British.
To start, we chose game liver pâté with toast and cornichon for him, and chicory, bacon, buttermilk and Stichelton salad for me. He smacked his lips with glee at the smooth pâté, the accompanying cornichon providing the perfect bite, and my salad was beautifully chilled and crunchy – the ideal antidote to cut the rich blue cheese.
Despite tempting choices of baked smoked haddock with leeks, mussels and crème fraiche or the sand sole with brown shrimps, capers and parsley, there was only one main course for me: the eponymous Shepherd’s Pie. Served in a bubbling casserole dish and cooked with hearty chunks of lamb, this is the real deal. My husband plumped for the Galloway sirloin with smoked anchovy butter and watercress, and was a happy man. Starters came in at a reasonable £7.00 and £7.50, the Shepherd’s Pie at £19.50 and sirloin at £28.50 – good value, as was the wine list.
Once again the place to eat in Westminster, Shepherd’s is also a good spot for great value British food. Furthermore, the restaurant also has two beautiful private dining rooms that can accommodate between eight and 30 guests.
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