It may sound like I have done little but blow the trumpet for EC1 of late, and thinking about it, there is actually a lot of good food to be eaten around the Old St/Clerkenwell/Farringdon area, despite my initial trepidation when accepting a job there. One of the newer openings, is The Longroom.
It is indeed a rather long room with a central open kitchen where the limited menu is prepared and served. Their schtick is quality meat and beer, as it's still early days they are rarely full yet and the room feels a tad vacuous. There's been minimal buzz surrounding the place on twitter and I'm yet to read a review. I was keen to try before I leave the area and head back to Soho for work.
The short and sweet menu reads well. Home cured salt beef is the star, in sandwich or sharing board form, the menu bolstered by some home made soups and cheese toasties. As long as the beef is good, what's not to like?
And I did like the beef. It bared the requisite characteristics, in that it's suitably salty, stringy and tender. It's Keevil and Keevil brisket, sourced from around the corner at Smithfield market. It was the accompaniments I was not 100% sold on. The bread, sourdough from Gail's Bakery, is very good bread, but I wasn't sure of it's place in this context. I'm not certain why they've veered from the traditional and shied away from rye. It is nice bread though.
The house pickles were very generous, onions and gherkins and other crunchy vinegary specimens, vying for your attention and rendering the beef all but tasteless in the sandwich. I had the Reuben with swiss cheese, thousand island dressing, english mustard and sauerkraut also thrown into the mix. Ideal to soak up the many beers on offer. I felt there was something missing but can't be sure what, or perhaps it's that the sandwich isn't perfectly in harmony with a bit too much going on. It's not quite up there with the Mishkin's Reuben for me, but they are completely different beasts.
That said, I'll be heading back later this week for my leaving lunch, and I'll be trying a cheese toastie next time. I love the idea of the place, perhaps it's early days and things will develop with time, what they are doing right, is the drinks. I had a pint of the London Fields Hackney Hopster pale ale. All citrusy and light, I forget that I'm not keen on beer when I drink this! As well as the multiple draught options, there are plenty of imported bottled beers on the drinks menu. Of particular interest, the Little Creatures pale ale all the way from Oz. (Imported by Aspalls, but still craft, right?! Hmm.)
Prices are reasonable, £5-9 for the sandwiches, with a lunch special available of half a serving of soup with half of any sandwich for £7.50. The beers are available in quarter, half and pint measures, which is handy for me as I'm in lightweight form at the moment since my pathetic attempt at #dryjan.
18-20 St John Street