If the mills of justice grind slowly, perhaps the kitchens of 113 Restaurant – nestled discreetly in the corner of the Law Society building – have taken the lead from their patrons. Despite having booked for 8am, it was clear that the actual appearance of customers at such an hour was not a customary occurrence. Arriving at five to eight, I made my way to the unoccupied reception. After a minute or two, a smart but loose-cuffed and slightly anxious waiter emerged apologetically from a side-room, confirms the booking and leads me to a window table, hurriedly working cuff-links in as we go. He then vanishes, to re-appear five minutes later in more composed state, and enquire whether a drink is wanted while I wait for co-breakfasters. An affirmative reply results in the commendably speedy arrival of a large cup of very good coffee. This is a good sign.
When all have arrived and settled, an order for two full English breakfasts and one London smoked salmon with poached eggs goes in. Unfortunately, it is at this point that the really slow grinding begins. Exhausting first the coffee, then the conversation all eyes eventually drift towards the kitchen and then to wristwatches. It’s a pity because there is so much else going for this place, including – when it does arrive – the food. The presentation is faultless, fried eggs garnished with perky sprigs of basil, and all the elements of an exemplary full english cooked just right. Nice weighty cutlery and spotless white napkins impress on you that this is a serious eating establishment. Hey, even the HP sauce and ketchup bottles have bespoke “113” emblazoned caps – which adds a splendid touch of style, while at the same time not putting up any pretence that the ultimate breakfast condiments can be superseded by some fancy in-house concoction (it is almost universally true that efforts to this effect with fail miserably).
Smoked salmon and poached eggs arrive with similar sublimity of appearance – the perfectly done white blobs perched beckoningly atop a delicately ravelled mound of salmon. And not only that, the taste lives up to the look too. Alas, when come to call for the bill we are struck by the curse of invisibility once again … despite there not being a single other soul to be served. To end on a high note, when the bill does arrive it is really quite staggeringly modest compared to the quality of the fare and the sumptuousness of the surrounds. You could easily expect to pay 50% more at places of equal culinary merit in the locale; but then you probably wouldn’t have to worry so much about whether you can make it to your desk in time for the start of the working day. Ultimately, maybe you do get what you pay for one way or another. For an establishment that clearly caters mainly to a profession who are renowned for measuring time in terms of currency, it is a more than a little surprising. But I’d definitely come back here for a sound breakfast. Or a quiet one. But not for a quick one.