An early visit to Lorne in the formerly depressing restaurant wasteland of Victoria (A. Wong was at the vanguard of the upturn a few years ago, a couple of doors away), reveals some smart cooking from chef and co-owner Peter Hall, and a razor sharp wine list by fellow owner Katie Exton. They bring some tasty pedigree with them, including The Square, Chez Bruce, The River Cafe, Brawn and Benu in San Francisco – the expectation is on them to be shaking some impressive moves from the kick off.
Cuttlefish is deftly fried with a boldly seasoned semolina/cornflour crumb, alongside a punchy romesco humming with the addition of a bisque sauce that speaks of simmered prawn heads and their friends. Bream with baby gem, puntarelle and monk's beard comes in a sonorous, beautifully balanced dashi broth, the fish having had a quick brine before cooking: cleansing, ascetic, echoes of Japan. A dessert dodger (me) managed to enjoy a homely Yorkshire curd tart with 'builder's tea ice cream' which does indeed spookily taste like just like builder's tea...I later find out that Yorkshire Tea bags play a leading role.
Grower Champagne Veuve Fourny 1er Cru as the house fizz at £9.50 sets the tone, and when you see Produttori del Barbaresco and Kumeu River by the glass on the first page, you know you'll be in safe hands. Fleur de Thénac Rouge is one of the best value reds in town.
Lorne is wedged between Turkish restaurant Kazan and Znips hair salon (I missed it walking past four times), but there's enough going on here to pull me back again soon – and in this fervid London restaurant opening climate, that's becoming something of a rarity.