Swithins, Swithins Lane – Swithins Fish Restaurant considers itself with being a fine dining Italian restaurant. Sitting in the triangle of Monument, Bank and Mansion House, Swithins has been around since 1985. Entering Swithins,being in the Rothschild banking district, the place is logically crowded with people in office suits. It is a popular place for after office drinks.
Inside, Swithins is on two floors. As you enter the door, neon lights spelling out Swithins takes you downstairs. The place is dictated by the bar area. Loud with conversation, laughter and bright televison pictures, it gives me a headache. I find myself in a quagmire of roaring stimulii. I can believe that my cochlea functions as amplifiers at the time. I needed a moment of reconciliation. Done. Beyond the bar, there is the old Sanderman’s port cellar, known to date back about 100 years, and a private function room. Here, the cellar is transformed to accommodate about a dozen tables.
Upstairs of Swithins, is another drinking area. Here is a much more convivial bar. The dining area is on a split level above in a L-shaped area which sites another dozen tables. The tables were nicely set up with ironed tablecloths and napkins, butter dish and a fresh flower to give life to the table. It is minimal but classy. There are several Swithins menu; Brasserie Menu, Italian Restaurant Menu, Evening Menu and Set Menus, all boast to serve fish and crustacea. There are cold dishes such as “gravadlax” and oysters as well as cooked dishes like gnocchi and ravioli.
As we dined from their Evening Menu, their starters range from GBP 5.00 soup of the day to GBP 17.00 oysters. Main dishes are at GBP 21.50 for Swithins fruite de mer to the humble ravioli at GBP 13.50. Meat dishes are available for accompanying diners who prefer non seafood. Followed by desserts, fixed prices at GBP 6.50 and a selection of sweet wines, ports, coffees and teas.
gamberoni swithins (grilled tiger prawns served with garlic, chilli and white wine sauce) GBP 10.80 – overcooked, tough and plenty of sauce.
rock oysters no 1 best in season 6 GBP 9.00 – fresh and pleasant.
10 oz sirloin steak served with thick cut chips, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms GBP 18.50 – a bit on the thin side for a sirloin steak, tough and chewy – not a good choice.
grilled loin of fresh tuna with salsa verde, rocket and cherry tomatoes parmesan salad GBP 16.50 – for a fish restaurant to cook my tuna well done when asked for rare and then excusing it by saying that it is difficult to cook a rare tuna, puzzled me. At first they were reluctant, but then changed my plate with due respect.
Swithin’s second attempt of my grilled tuna. Verdict = as blue as you can get and I love it!
tiramisu GBP 6.50 – recognised that it was homemade. Mediocre and way too much cream, not by the best Italian mama I am afraid.
tarte au chocolate, served with vanilla ice-cream GBP 6.50 – visually, tempting. Taste wise it was disappointing. Chocolate tart = no taste of chocolate, squidgy sponge bottom (large amounts of coldwater oozing out from the bottom when you gently push your tart down, see picture below) and wafer biscuit obviously bought in. A dessert plate put together from different shop-bought inferior products or has been sitting around for too long.
Honest for mentioning about their discretionary 12.5% service charge but maybe, just perhaps they might have forgotten to mention about the cover charge GBP 1.50 per person (which also attracts the 12.5% charge). Time to update your details dear London Restaurant, whom on the website said that there is no cover charge.
Service was polite but rather rushed. Waiters were polite but could not afford a smile. Swithins on a Thursday night was busy, almost full. The floorboards were bouncy and each time a hurried waiter was called to serve, my chair bounced up and down in sync with their heavy footsteps. I would have done better on a ship in rough waters. Not very pleasant, I assure you. As long as you are making a reservation, sitting upstairs on the split floor level, please do mention that you do not want to be next to the kitchen. Unless, of course, such an experience is one of the type that you enjoy.
Overall, Swithins Fish / Italian seafood dining, I am not impressed and cannot see myself returning soon. My dear co-diners agreed unanimously. Thank you.
21-23 Swithins Lane
+44 (0)20 7623 6853