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High Timber (Bar, Restaurant)

Picture of High Timber in City of London, London

8 High Timber Street, Banks of the Thames, City of London, London, EC4V 3PA
Cuisine: European
Tel: 0207 248 1777 | Email to High Timber | Transport: Mansion House | Write review

High Timber Review

Best for: Fans of South African wine and meat-lovers working in The City.

Great: Thames-side, fine-dining potential.

FIFA saw it when they looked across the sandy, 50°C heat of Qatar and decided where to host the 2022 World Cup. Jive Records presumably recognised it when they saw a young R. Kelly sing in 1991 (perhaps they too believed he could fly). And, somehow, miraculously, the Oscar Committee managed to identify it when they watched Zellweger and Zeta-Jones do all that jazz in Chicago. The movie, not the city.

I saw it too as I stood looking at High Timber on the banks of the Thames.

“Can you see it?” I asked my dinner guest.

“Yeh, I see it,” she said, “potential.”

High Timber is potentially one of the best restaurants in London. Potentially, it could also boast some of the most romantic views from a London restaurant, or the best wine cellar in London; it’s just a pity neither are clear enough for everyone to appreciate (one is obscured, the other is hidden downstairs). There’s potential hiding amongst the port and biltong of the exquisitely fragrant cheese cellar. There’s potential lurking in toilets (easy now!). The potential is so obvious, it’s hard not to notice it.

Yet, there are certain elements of High Timber that square up to potential and give it a good slap round the ear, determined to prove that it is one of London’s best restaurants, not just potentially one. These firm, concrete elements include the impressive floor-to-ceiling glass frontage, and the swift, perky service which sees a dropped fork replaced by a fresh one within 3 seconds.

I could go on.

And I will.

High Timber’s chef sends a message that he’s not happy with the standard of the kale delivered that day, and instead serves spinach (it’s hard not to feel a tiny bit special when that happens; unless he just ran out). Plus, the pumpkin & truffle risotto with the buttery cheese flavour is so mesmorising it can momentarily create distractions from interesting conversations about tuition fees.

And then, oh then, there’s the wine. If South African wines do for you what rain did for Bing Crosby, it’s high time you hightailed down to High Timber. The wine cellars are 90% SA exports; expertise rivaled only by Vivat Bacchus. Despite her radioactive perma-tan, gossip star Jordan doesn’t possess the true oaky finish that her namesake, Jordan Chardonnay 2009, has. And she’s much more expensive.

And yet, despite all this splendour, pick at the scab of underachievement and potential is all you’ll find. Sadly, there are elements of High Timber that cower in the corner, frightened of what potential might do, and these elements need addressing before it can achieve true greatness.

Firstly, the decor; a perfect example of what a stylish restaurant should look like; if this is 1985 and everyone is suffering from a mild case of total blindness. These chairs were stolen from my mother’s kitchen. And those walls, well, they deserve accolades; accolades for blandness.

Secondly, there’s a state of confusion with High Timber’s identity. It doesn’t really know what it is. The steak - a clear favourite at the restaurant as the equivalent weight of four saloon cars was sold in just 9 months - was lovely and tender and arrived on a board, all relaxed like. Nothing ultra fine dining about that, which is fine.

But then the scallop with truffle & Madeira jelly, although equally delicious, had very peculiar cauliflower trees with it. And similarly, the pork belly, Biltong & black pudding main - again adventurous and satisfyingly consumed - was busy with shapes and sizes and colours that bore an unerring resemblance to the naff post-modern artwork making the walls even uglier.

Sure, the City boys will impress their clients by spending £80 on a dessert and £395 on the Vega Sicilia 1999 (even though they’ve chosen to eat at a South African restaurant), but is it lost on them? Are you a down-to-Earth bistro, High Timber, or are you a chic eatery? (I’d go with the latter if I were you).

Lastly, the mice. Now, I make this abundantly clear: High Timber does NOT have mice. Repeat: NO MICE IN RESTAURANT. There are, however, mice just outside the impressive floor-to-ceiling glass frontage, mocking us humans with their usurpation of our potentially amazing views of the Globe Theatre and the Tate Modern. Scurry around those obscuring pillars whilst you can you little blighters! You may not enjoy it for much longer. If the powers of High Timber are smart they will wisely purchase up that dead space within which mock us, and extend their potentially great restaurant out to the Thames, pushing you and your mocking furry friends into a watery demise. I’d even go so far as to say why not go the whole hog and add decking out there just to rub it in. Then we’ll see who has the better view, vermin!

Move the wine cellars upstairs, extend the restaurant to the water’s edge and get someone other than a 4 year old to design the interior and then this youngish restaurant will have a full arsenal to go with its delightful food, excellent wine list, and jovial service. Take that potential!
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Customer Reviews for High Timber

Average (based on 1 votes): 1 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of High Timber.

“I brought some clients here the other day and the excellent wine list, succulent steaks and (somewhat obscured) views across the Thames helped to secure me another long contract. Nice work High Timber. A delightful hidden find.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Tom Fortune, Hampstead (7 years 8 months 12 days ago)

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Food

The European menu has a focus on grilled steaks and British meats. High Timber also houses a cheese room specialising in seasonal cheeses alongside a selection of original chutneys, honeys and jams.

Updated 26/03/2009

Drinks

The restaurant holds around 40,000 bottles of wine on site in two main cellars. High Timber also stocks a range of British wines, including a selection of established names and new discoveries.

Updated 26/03/2009

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Venue ID: 19801

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