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Review: Pennethorne’s Café Bar

We’ve had a date with Pennethorne’s Café Bar for a while so it was great when it finally happened on a rain- free Friday.  Arriving after a busy work day, it was just what was needed to unwind.

Located in the New Wing of Somerset House, Pennethorne’s Café Bar is named after Sir James Pennethorne, a 19th century English architect who designed the Somerset House New Wing.

As a Cafe bar, Pennethorne’s is not where you go for a three course meal but a place to relax and unwind perhaps after work or to dash in for lunch or breakfast considering there’s fresh artisan coffee and fresh bread baked on the premises daily.


Pennethorne’s décor is quite interesting, it wouldn’t be out of place on the set of Downton Abbey with its grand windows and stylish Victorian-chic interiors but it somehow manages to be perfectly relaxing for those looking to chill out while watching London pass by.

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The menu is simple; a no fuss 85-cover menu put together by head chef Richard Robinson, and inspired by Pennethorne’s Grand Tour travels to France and Italy. Think classic French and Italian flavours with a modern English twist.

We started with a fantastic, thick sliced meat selection platter , then a pate on toast but our favourite was a killer mushroom on toast, with the mushrooms soaked in Madeira, burned with brandy and finished with thyme and double cream. The end result is a superb taste fest which is highly recommended.

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Selection of Meats – £16
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Mushroom on Toast: £4.50
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Duck Liver, Orange Brioche – £4.50
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Fresh Bread baked on the premises – £3


Pennethorne’s has an extensive drinks menu with something for everyone. For beer lovers, there’s a selection of quality craft beers from London’s renowned CRATE brewery; wine lovers also have a signature wine collection from England, Italy and France, plus the best of the rest of the world to choose from; and coffee lovers are spoiled for choice. Pennethorne’s has a Brew Bar and a selection of artistically made single origin coffees, not to mention a ‘coffee of the month’ sharing new flavours and coffee art each month.There’s also a head mixologist Paolo, in house to bring signature cocktails that start at £5.

After a hard day’s’ work, (sort of) we started the evening with a nice stiff drink,  a 13yr old Yamazaki single malt whisky. It’s not usually seen in most bars and it’s distinctly different from whiskies made in the UK so it was the perfect way to start the evening, and it didn’t disappoint.  Like anything made in Japan, it’s well made – triple distilled, no oak in sight and very refined.

The manager then, helped us pair a couple of wines with our food selection, which is always helpful. Besides, who needs a sommelier when you have an all knowing manager on hand? We tried the Les Nuages Pinot Noir 2012, a light, almost rose like red wine that perfectly complimented our selection of meats, a Valpolicella Superior Ripasso 2012, which is great with everything (almost), and ended the night with a great Sauternes.

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Pennethorne’s is a welcome addition to London’s bar scene. It’s easy going with a friendly staff and a relaxing place to pop into for drinks and light eats with friends. Thumps up to the menu, which doesn’t try to do too much but still manages to offer a substantial flavour fest. And with cocktails at £5 and the food menu from £12, it’s recommended.


Address: West Wing, Somerset House, London WC2R 1LA

Pennethorne’s Café Bar Gallery

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