Juxtaposition, if anything, is the joy and curse of Saturelle.
The restaurant's interior has an aggressive minimalism about it – smooth glass and metal abutting the period details as though critical of their existence. Old and new.
It feels almost temporary; a frighteningly expensive scaffold creating a mezzanine that never should have been.
Nevertheless, snug in its adult cotton comforters it’s a curiously warming place to sit.
Staff are at once efficient, slick and a little distant. Bumpy and smooth.
And so it follows with the presentation of our food.
My butternut squash with truffle arancini in a kumquat sauce look and taste superb. Earth and full of forest floor.
But my companion’s foie gras is a slab of fatty liver dumped on a plate, as bland as the decor and a shock at the best part of £15. Fortunately there’s not much wrong with the flavour.
The bipolar nature of our meal continues into the mains as a Jackson Pollock explosion of Gloucester old spot pork fillet with pancetta and pequillo pepper arrives like a firework.
Deep and rich with flavour, it’s as good as it looks – my companion is in raptures.
But my blackened cod is a shy old thing hiding deep under a bale of greenery, seemingly scared of its Champagne sauce. It’s well cooked but takes significant probing to discover.
And finally, while my companion’s zabaione is powerful in taste it looks dull.
Two-one to me then as my cheese is almost lost in a riot of accompaniments.
Perhaps, like the decor placing the rough with the smooth is intended to enhance the latter.
But it’s a curious game to be playing at an establishment designed to suck in the City suits and their expense accounts.
I suppose it introduces a certain competitive edge to things, not a bad bet for the City, although I can’t help wondering if it would be wiser to toy less with the market and concentrate on giving everyone something to remember?
Expect to pay around £14 for a starter and £27 for a main course.
Saturelle, Royal Exchange, London, EC3V 3LR, 020 7618 2480