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Hush Brasseries St.Paul – a (not so) quietly brilliant oasis in Officeland

Our much loved London can be a fickle lover when it comes to dining options- this matron wears a leotard skin, especially for places of the casual, unplanned, cheap-ish type. If you work in Soho, you’re blessed with a variety of choices for every occasions. If you are in Shoreditch or Tech City, you’re never far off from some new world cuisine jewel (cue the ever popular Bahn Mi) or a street market (Red Market in Old Street). But if you dwell in the wider City area and don’t have the corporate Amex to fund banker’s steakhouse feasts, then you are in trouble. So as someone in just this situation who has spent most of her corporate life in this zone, I  welcome the arrival of the Hush Brasseries brand in the Square Mile mid-market arena.

hush brasserie st paul

As somebody who can barely tolerate average food and would rather not eat than have pub grub, the “Thursday night company drinks”, “Tuesday night leaving do”, “Friday team lunch”, “post-work date with that Meetic guy you’d rather meet near the office” scenario spells DOOM to me. Most nearby options are boring, overpriced or plain awful – yes, even if the main focus is drinking yourself silly, I’d rather do it with some decent stomach lining which won’t make the day after worse (yes, I am looking at you, Weatherspoon pub so-called-food). My night at Hush proved that having fun and a few drinks in the City fringe doesn’t mean compromising on the quality of food and wine – plus points for that!

Hush started as a brasserie in Mayfair, and one of lasting success (no mean feat in these days of one-hit wonders). I visited time ago for a work lunch and felt in W1 heaven, although it’s not possibly somewhere I would regularly visit on my money. It is a very different cases for the other two, more recent branches of the Hush brand which have opened under the same name (but with a different concept and price tag) of Hush Brasseries. One is in Holborn, along the fairly depressing, fake-pubs lined  street, which connects Chancery Lane to New Oxford Street; the other just opened close to St.Paul’s Cathedral. All belong to the group headed by Jamie Barber, which also manages the colourful (and very underestimated) Brazilian brand Cabana.

hush brasserie cocktails menu

I visited the St.Paul’s branch on a midweek evening, at a time where the post-office dining crowd was starting to thin out but the place was still pleasantly buzzing. As my date was late, I chose to wait in the bar area- a well-designed metal counter with a NYC feeling, complete with a flashing “Liquor Bar” sign and barmen in bow ties smiling at you nonstop. Very pleasant. As my my date texted me he was even later, I thought it would be a fitting punishment to kickstart the booze part without him and start smiling back at the guys from behind a cocktail. I am a bit addicted to Aperol Spritz, but on the night I was tempted to try a different variation from their “Spritzers” section- a very easy to drink concoction of limoncello, prosecco and soda. Sounds wrong, but I can assure you it was good indeed. A second tipple came recommended from the manager- an espresso shot (too sweet for me, but thanks for trying to entertain a waiting lady).

From the vantage point of the bar you can get a better idea of the décor of Hush St.Paul’s- it’s a curious mix and match of elements from American bars, French brasseries and sleek “modern British”. A bit like my Spritz, this sounds very wrong, but it somehow works. I especially like the tiled open kitchen and the clusters of hanging glass bulbs serving as chandeliers, as well as the comfy booths and chairs. The risk with this type of high-street places is to be either kitsch and poorly designed or to be overly-designed and cold but Hush strikes a good balance in terms of atmosphere.

hush brasserie open kitchen

With my partner finally here, we’re hushed to a table and left to ponder over a menu with too many delicious sounding choices (especially for the big appetite we’ve developed by now). With Montepulciano d’Abruzzo on the list – and a good one for once…I have seen to many Montepulciano giving the grape a bad rep on London wine lists – I can’t but give in. It will go well with my spicy starter of prawns with chilli and most of all with the signature Burger.  [Yes, I have been stubbornly refusing to give in to the burger hype in London and eat the “fanous burgers”…and now I am craving nothing else more than a patty. Women are contradictory like that]. We round it off the order with crab salad,  steak and the recommended side- Hush “truffle fries with parmesan” (they had me at “truffle”).

hush brasserie menu

The food is good, in fact I would say a good notch above good, in particular the mains. The sign outside ambitiously sells Hush’s burger as “the best burger in London” (an overawarded title for sure), without specifying if it refers to the Mayfair original.  While I find it a bit cheeky, the burger I get is good for sure , with a lovely brioche bun, a great onion relish and a just-right-thickness medium rare patty. What really gets me is the fries – I usually prefer chunky chips to the thin version, but these are just perfect, with the truffle and parmesan very understatedly adding a delicious kick.

The steak is more than satisfactory as well and we even give in to dessert, not because we aren’t full but just because we’re enjoying it so much we don’t want to leave. I guess the word for a “Mars bar cheesecake” would be “moreish”, exept that I now refuse to admit I ordered something sounding so naff, ate it and found it delicious. I would need another of those cocktails, probably.

hush brasserie st pauls

The room is buzzing and in the soft light I can spot groups of people- dates, friends, even solo diners- all seemingly having a jolly good time. Including us. Our waiter is –honestly speaking- one of the best I have ever had in any level of restaurant  including the posh ones – and if you are already sniggering “of course you are there to review the place”, well, he wasn’t aware of it. I had the impression the staff is just very proud of the place- and they should, as my overall impression is that in terms of service, food and atmosphere, Hush Brasseries in St.Pauls is delivering just the right mix  at very reasonable prices; it also has the character which “chains” often do lack.

Hush also offers breakfast (with complimentary newspapers AND SLIPPERS- I’d like to try that), brown bag office lunches for a fiver – hard to beat even in Subway territory– and afternoon tea. I bet they get a lot of  the post-office hours cocktails and dinner crowd and I hope they’re as busy and bustling, as they were the night I visited … and that the barmen keep smiling quite so charmingly. Cheers to that!

 

hush brasserie st paul review

I was a guest of Hush brasseries for my dinner – opinions are mine

Hush Brasseries on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary
Reviewer
Serena Mariani
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Hush Brasserie - St.Paul's London
Author Rating
3
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