Having wanted to try Millie’s Lounge for some time now (friends have gone and all have come back with positive experiences), I seized the opportunity when a friend of mine asked me to stick around the Bank area in case her date goes sour.
Millie’s Lounge is one of several restaurants at The Ned, all which seem very inviting, but I opted for Millie’s in part because I was drawn in by the plush, pink sofas and art-deco style. It feels a little like going back to a more glamorous time from the moment you arrive.
Not that the ambiance is perfect, though: it is a little darker than is practical (all my photos for this blog post have been lightened), rather noisy (you really need to raise your voice to be heard by your dining companion) and quite drafty. The spot in which we were seated faced one of the doors and, every time the door opened, my friend and I shuddered. She ultimately ended up having dinner with her coat on. At least the seating was good for a view: we had good visibility of both the venue as a whole – including the smartly dressed bankers and businessmen in the area who were seemingly the most prominent demographic – as well as the live music on the elevated stage.
Millie’s is a British restaurant and, as you’d expect, it had many British classics on the menu. However, having had a big lunch earlier in the day, I couldn’t dream of having something like a shepherd’s pie. Instead, I opted for salmon while my friend opted for sole, in our attempt to keep it light.
But first came the sourdough bread, which I’m pleased to say was fresh and served warm, with a finely wrapped and labeled butter which was soft and spreadable. The service was prompt and cordial, if not particularly warm (typically British, one might say). However, after having my cup of water filled three times and my friend suggesting we might want more than one glass given how thirsty we were, they brought us a water jug to keep at the table which was greatly appreciated.
The salmon, I must say, was cooked perfectly. I was advised early on that the salmon would be ‘raw’ in the middle and luckily I knew what they meant, because it wasn’t raw but rather a touch more tender and pink, as it should be. It was still warm and cooked, and it ensured the fish wasn’t too dry. I advised them to serve it as the chef recommended, and it really was perfectly prepared. The samphire and spinach were tender, the chard was just wilted and lovely.
Although I didn’t taste it myself, my friend’s sole, served with lemon and capers, seemed appetising as well. She described it as “moist and fluffy, and not overcooked”.
Having had a light main, I was tempted by the thought of dessert. The menu was rather limited and included an uninspiring four items:
- Poached pear and oat ice cream
- Vanilla creme caramel, rhubarb
- Golden syrup sponge and vanilla ice cream
- Chocolate, banana and caramel tart
When this is the case, I usually default to the safe bet and go with chocolate. The tart reminded me a bit of an Argentinean alfajor: round with a caramel centre (and very, very thin banana slices) with a firm chocolate exterior that at times is crunchy. The cream on top which deceptively looks like ice cream is actually banana cream. The oozy caramel was sweet and indulgent and overall, it wasn’t a bad dessert, but there was the lingering flavour of something I couldn’t quite place that seemed a lot like liqueur. I don’t like liqueur in my desserts, so this was a little off-putting.
As dessert pushed me over the edge a bit, I very much needed a coffee to help me digest the abundant calories I’d just taken in. I ordered an espresso, and could tell just by looking at it that it was all wrong: it looked far more like an americano, given how large and watered down it appeared. Upon tasting it, it was clear it was undrinkable. I know, I have higher than average standards for coffee as an Italian and it might have been fine for someone else, but I had to leave it and fortunately was not charged for it.
Overall, it might be that my expectations were too high: the Ned is a beautiful hotel that promises quite a bit. Had I gone into it with the mindset of having dinner in a hotel, I might have walked away with a lesser degree of disappointment. But all things considered, especially when I realised I’d spent 38 pounds for it, I’d describe this experience much like the kids are doing these days: it was rather “meh”.
*Calories for this meal – one quarter of the bread, the salmon, and the dessert – have been estimated at 950 calories.
Food taste: 3 / 5 (The fish – both dishes – were well prepared. Dessert was alright; coffee was undrinkable)
Food/table presentation: 4 / 5 (Simple and minimal; food appeared appetising.)
Service: 3 / 5 (Good enough service; shame I had to repeatedly ask for water )
Atmosphere/decor: 3.5/ 5 (Points for live music and the overall decor; otherwise, the draft was a big problem throughout the dinner and overall it was a bit too dark)
Value for money: 2.5 / 5 (Mismatch in value for money. The salmon dish alone was 26 pounds. Rated with an average score because I’ve factored in the premium for live music)
Overall rating: 3.2 / 5