What: A new wine bar and kitchen in Chislehurst, Bromley, that gets its name from being located in a former branch of NatWest.
Who: Stuart Gillies, former CEO of Gordon Ramsay’s international restaurant empire, has taken on the site with his wife Cecilia. Having spent seven years at the helm of Gordon Ramsay Group, Gillies left the company at the start of last year to return his focus to running a single restaurant. He’s been joined by head chef Bobby Brown, previously of Bread Street Kitchen, and general manager Angelika Oparczyk, another Ramsay alumnus having previously been a sommelier and wine manager for Gordon Ramsay Restaurants.
The food: Bank House is described by Gillies as a wine bar not a restaurant and thus the menu comprises small, relatively simple plates of drinking food rather than the larger more involved dishes you might expect from a chef whose CV includes The Savoy Grill and Boxwood Cafe. Dishes include smoked anchovies; n’duja on toast; sweetcorn fritters with sweetcorn puree; pork and pineapple skewers; baked scallop with beetroot, capers and horseradish; Marmite flat iron with marrowbone; and triple cooked chips with chicken salt. Prices are very sensible, with most dishes priced between £4 and £6 and the most expensive - the flat iron - just £11.
The vibe: The two-storey restaurant is drinks focused and so much of the ground floor area is given over to a bar and drinking area, with only a small area at the back set up for dining. The bright upstairs area has a separate bar and will no doubt become a more food-led space during busy times. The space has been sympathetically designed for the area; bare brick walls in some areas, bright artwork, parquet flooring and a copper-topped bar all create a smart and modern space that feels contemporary but not London trendy.
And another thing: Gillies initially had his sights on the building next door and had been in talks with the landlord about taking it on, but eventually lost out to Thai restaurant chain Giggling Squid.