The banking connection doesn't end with the clientèle for the restaurant is set in the old Lloyds Bank headquarters where the ground was floor previously occupied by tellers and the upstairs by management. Now, the ground floor houses a champagne bar (The Runner at Greens) in a cathedral like space while you need to ascend the grand staircase to access the main restaurant, the precisely named ‘Upstairs at 14 Cornhill’. The ‘runners’ noted in the downstairs bar refer to a horse racing theme that is evident throughout the bar which is a principal occupation of the owners. While a little out of place here, it's mostly unobtrusive and Lloyds Bank did of course have the black horse as a symbol (one that remains celebrated in an original floor mosaic). Upstairs, the jockeys outfits from below give way to dark green leather booths as the City branch replicates the St James’s original.
In terms of food style, the brand is carried as ‘Restaurant & Oyster Bar’ with ‘Green’s classic’ starters listed as potted shrimps, smoked salmon (with or without scrambled eggs), salmon fishcake, and split pea & smoked ham hock soup. There’s West Mersea Oysters of course and some additional dishes. For main courses, there’s more ‘Green’s Classics’: Plaice fish & chips, Smoked haddock Parker Bowles and Calves liver & bacon, as well as four grill dishes and four other mains.
Prices aren’t cheap, the two vegetarian mains are priced at £15.50, the classics £18, with meat or fish from the grill from £28. Sides are all priced at £4.
What’s more, the menu small print informs you there is an additional £2.50 per person cover charge, something we wholeheartedly disapprove of, for in our view, food and drink should already be priced to cover running costs. We asked the question and they replied it covered the cost of bread, napkins and was tradition. Service of 12.5% is also added to the bill.
A quick shout out on Twitter suggests others feel the same way as we do about a cover charge, and for those who care to participate, we include a survey on the right side where you too can vote on the inclusion of such things.
This is not a cheap restaurant to begin with, and it is not as if they provide entertainment causing people to linger at their table. What's more, for anyone just seeking a lunchtime main course and a drink, the cover charge could add a full and additional 10% on to the final bill. In that sense, we view it as a stealth charge and one designed solely to make the food look cheaper than it really is.
We in fact declined the bread and later, when presented with the bill, the cover charge was absent.
In short, everything today was competent but nothing was special.
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