Inside, the restaurant are hoping to win their own acclaim. They've had a "complete overhaul" which celebrates ancient Rome - but the theme isn't enough to pepper this rather unexciting first floor space, moments from Fenchurch Street station. Roma is billed as a unique concept restaurant, so their after-work Happy Hour seems an unlikely fit, splashed over new promotional material (it's probably to cash in on the City location).
Nevertheless, the food often displays ingenuity - which is pleasingly ironic as the recipes herald from thousands of years ago. The concept here is what the Romans used to eat, so half the menu is cooked over hay (an ancient Roman technique), mosaic tiles decorate the space and the wine list mirrors the geography of the Roman empire. It sounds a lot more exciting than it is (City restaurants do love a theme) but despite that, our small plate starters were promising.
We tried the cod loin fishcake, which was fresh with generous meaty cuts of flaky-fresh cod, though we would have liked a more exciting partner than the rather predictable terragon cream. Hay smoked mackerel fillet was beautifully presented with due lettuce crunch to offset the dense, chewy smoked mackerel, and the hare and pistachio terrine, though predictable, is likely to be a big hit. It's a generous serving, glazed and served with course chutney.
The Roman theme divides even more literally for mains, where diners chose from dishes 'cooked in hay', or 'large plates'. The service was good, so we took the waitresses recommendation and shared a signature dish: the slow cooked leg of lamb with garlic and rosemary with a sticky lavender and honey sauce for two. Smoked over hay in the morning, we'd pictured a big hunk of meat to scrap over and rip apart victoriously, but were disappointed by 5 neatly-cut circles of lamb on a bed of hay. The sweet garnish was distinctive and successful - the sweetness even adjusted the lamb and made it uncharacteristically bold - but a lack of theatre let the dish down.
Roma's daily Happy Hour (5-7) and intriguing small plates menu make this realistically better value as an after work spot than as a destination restaurant for a Roman feast.
|What||Roma, restaurant review|
|Where||Roma, EC3R 7NA | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Tower Hill (underground)|
01 Oct 16 – 01 Oct 20, 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM