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December 17, 2010 10:00 pm
Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners, Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London
Food: Restaurant sensibilities meet healthy intentions
Value for money: Exceptional
Corporate mission: None
To get a measure of how seriously food is taken at this architectural firm, consider first its chef Sophie Braimbridge’s CV: Le Gavroche, Chez Panisse and the River Café. The reason for this high calibre is evident – RSHP founder Lord Richard Rogers, celebrated designer of the Centre Pompidou, is married to River Café co-founder Ruth Rogers. While the two eateries aren’t formally connected, the influence is clear.
The substantially subsidised canteen offers two choices each day: meat or vegetarian, served with plenty of fresh bread, olive oil and juice, for a very reasonable £3.50. Though there isn’t a long menu, portions are generous and plates returned clean. Quality is outstanding, and each week’s offerings ensure a jigsaw of flavours, with a fish day and a meat-free day.
It was a Moroccan tagine that tempted me when I visited, served with couscous and a wonderful spicy harissa sauce. The vegetables were lightly cooked, the sauce aromatic and topped with fresh coriander. On a different day I could have eaten roast pollack or chickpea pancakes with avocado, chilli and tomato salsa. Puddings are offered occasionally.
The canteen, which also doubles as the office’s tea and coffee station, is deliberately located halfway up the building so that all staff, including the senior partners, leave their desks, mingle and discuss ideas. With the River Café close by, the canteen must be doing something right to count Lord Rogers as a frequent diner.
Emily Cadman is interactive producer at the FT.
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