Simon Walters enjoys a first-class business lunch in Westminster
If you’re going for a business lunch in Westminster, near to the mother of all parliaments, you want the restaurant to feel… well – parliamentary. You know, full of government sorts, people whose day-job is a position of power, who wouldn’t look out of place in an episode of Yes Minister. Shepherd’s of Westminster certainly fits the bill. With seating dominated by upholstered benches of green leather, some of the diners looked as though they’d been transported from the front benches in the Commons to the restaurant.
Some restaurants can be deemed as institutions rather than mere restaurants, and Shepherd’s of Westminster is probably in that hallowed circle. Previously co-owned by Michael Caine and Peter Langan, it has been owned for the past four years by Westminster grandee Lionel Zetter.
The menu isn’t extensive – six starters and seven main courses to choose from – but there’s something for every palette.
I started with the home-smoked duck with red cabbage and pomegranate, and I really enjoyed how the fruit and vegetable contrasted with the melt-in-the-mouth slices of duck.
My companion started with smoked eel from the set lunch menu – our waiter was happy for us to mix-and-match from the fixed-price lunch menu and the main menu – and we both plumped for a glass of Bordeaux to wet our whistle. We were there on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration, and asked the waiter to recommend a good red, so when we were recommended to choose between a US wine and something from our European neighbours, it was an easy choice to support the EU economy over the US. Trump intends to make trade more costly for foreigners, so we were happy to plough our money into the EU while we’re still a part of it.
I plumped for the signature dish on the mains, the Shepherd’s Pie (pictured above) – and it was a wise choice. Piping hot and delicious, I really didn’t need the side order of chips but I couldn’t resist them after seeing them on a neighbouring diner’s table. My companion had a wonderfully tender and very tasty slow-cooked kid shoulder with bashed neeps and quince.
Neither of us had room for a dessert, until our charming waitress convinced us that the ice cream was too good to miss. I have to say, she was right. My pal selected chestnut ice cream and mine was lemon curd.
Prices are reasonable, especially with The Restaurant Club discount, and walking around the streets of Westminster and its power-base before and afterwards, you really feel that you’ve been somewhere special at ordinary prices. Highly recommended.