Lorne is the name of a town in Victoria, Australia. Lorne is also the name of a new restaurant near Victoria station in London. Perhaps the Victoria connection is intentional, giving a sense of sun-kissed sea-side escapism to the eternally drab Wilton Road. Whatever the reason behind the name, Lorne is a welcome addition to the Pimlico dining scene.
Last month I lauded Lorne’s house aperitif, made from sherry, white port, rosemary and Chartreuse. Now let’s talk about the restaurant itself.
it’s like the conservatory of your rich aunt in Surrey
The interior is light and airy, with pastel shades dominating, birch tables and chairs, and plenty of plants (without being overrun by them like some horror B-movie). I struggled to find a description for the interior design until my colleague simply implanted this image in my head: it’s like the conservatory of your rich aunt in Surrey.
Lorne is co-owned and run by a chef and a sommelier, and like Mere and Blandford Comptoir is part of a growing trend of restaurants where the sommelier gets equal footing. This is simply honey to Palate’s ears. For too long wine has just been a side show or an afterthought, as with most pubs where bog-standard wines are marked up heavily just to generate profit rather than for their own sake or to complement the food.
Lorne already has the self-confidence to just do what it wants
Indeed, the wine selection at Lorne is very good – perhaps skewed towards the lighter end (Pinots and Burgundies abound). There is a lightness of touch about nearly everything at Lorne. In this day and age of instant celebrity and selfie narcissism, Lorne shows that it doesn’t need to shout. I’m not entirely sure what style the restaurant is aiming for, other than that catch-all expression “modern European”, but then I don’t think anything needs to neatly fit into boxes: Lorne already has the self-confidence to just do what it wants. If people like it, good. If they don’t, well… It will find its following.
Things may be light and airy at Lorne but the food doesn’t pale into insignificance. The celeriac velouté was pleasant and flavoursome, allowing this often-overlooked root vegetable to sing, and had a smooth, even texture (no-one wants a soup grainier than an exfoliating face scrub do they?). The main of guinea fowl with mushroom puree, black pudding and calçot onion was perfectly fine – the meat hadn’t dried out, though the dish needed a touch more piquancy to really excite, and the juxtaposition of mushroom with black pudding felt like two elements of a full English breakfast that didn’t add all that much to this dish. I noted that red meat dishes tend to take a back seat on the menu, which shows Lorne’s self-confidence again (no need for steaks to pull in punters). The cheese course was reasonably priced: a mere pound more than the desserts (which is unusual as most places in the UK hike the price of cheese). The same goes for their own mineral water at £1 a bottle.
Even if the food is not spectacular, the service is polished and friendly. There is a lot to like about Lorne and I will certainly return.
76 Wilton Road
by J A Smith