41 Gracechurch Street,
0845 468 0102
The ViewLondon Review
Primarily a bar-restaurant with a deli-store and florist attached, The Folly, like John Torode’s Luxe in Spitalfields, or more significantly its sister venue The Anthologist, attempts to cram a helluva lot into its cavernous walls. The thing that sets it apart is its impressive botanical-inspired design, and even though it's only just opened, it's already packing them in on a school night.
Such is the instant popularity of The Folly – both floors of this huge glass-fronted space by Moorgate tube station are at top capacity on a Tuesday evening – you may think it’s been here for years. Take a look around the latest venue from Drake and Morgan, a company also responsible for The Anthologist and The Parlour in Canary Wharf, and it’s clear from the sheen that it’s brand new. It’s also aesthetically pleasing: luscious green potted plants; clusters of dangling teardrop lights; upside down flowerpots used as lamp shades; leafy print wallpaper; and wood and tiles forged in several different textures all show this is a space that’s been designed with military precision. Will it win a design award? Don’t bet against it.
Set over two floors there’s hardly a spare seat in the house – who said the City wasn’t playing as hard as it used to? Once you grab a table – a reservation is highly recommended – you can take in the view, and if you’ve got an inquisitive streak, like Karl Pilkington, your eyes will be pulled in several directions at once as there’s a lot going on. Service, despite the relentless traffic and endless orders, remains remarkably calm and collected, at least that’s the impression given to customers.
The menu is initially daunting as it’s A3 in size and it has all the food crammed onto one page. This includes plates, sharing boards, sandwiches, burgers, salads, mains and desserts. Prices are highly competitive, with plenty of the mains priced under £10.
From the ‘one or more to share’ part of the menu, the prawn and lemongrass lollipops (tempura-style prawn on a skewer, £6.50) are succulent, ever-so slightly greasy, and delicious with a sticky soy and citrus dipping sauce. Equally good: fluffy crab cakes (£6.50) served in a wooden dim sum basket with a sweet chilli sauce.
Pies, sausage and mash and linguine vongole are all under £10, even a rib-eye steak and chips is £14.95, although you may well add a couple of quid for a béarnaise or peppercorn sauce. Quality is decent: the steak is perfectly cooked to order; the chips are adequate. It’s all served on a wooden chopping board with a redundant bit of lettuce and intense baby vine tomatoes.
One serious flaw is flagged up on another main: the anchovy-heavy Caesar salad. Again, it is served on a wooden chopping board and whoever thought of this has lost sight of it being practical to eat. The salad leaves are precariously balanced so you end up being more concerned with chasing bits of it around the board and not making a mess rather than enjoying it. A rethink is definitely required on this front.
From a short list of desserts, a nice little pot of lemon crème brulee has a lovely pile of sugared lemon peel on the side. Two boozy dessert cocktails are also offered, with the chocolate chilli martini (£6.95) so cocoa-rich it's only likely to be enjoyed by chocoholics.
It’s not often you see skinny cocktails heading up the cocktail list but that’s exactly what you get here, a clear indictor that The Folly is following the wise old maxim that where the girls go, men will inevitably follow. Fine wines and wine flights (served in 125 ml glasses) are also available for those with expense accounts but the standard wine menu has some excellent options including a violet-flavoured La Florencia Malbec at £19.95 per bottle.
The Last Word
The fourth link in Drake and Morgan’s chain, The Folly is a female-friendly venue in a part of town that’s got plenty of testosterone flying around. It’s a very well-thought out concept – wooden chopping boards aside – and its green-fingered decor is sure to secure it recognition in the design world.
The Folly has been reviewed by 44 users