Our Marketing Director Ben England tips his hat to The Eagle, a perennial favourite still going strong after 25 years.
I have over the last few months been spending a fair amount of time in and around Clerkenwell for meetings and events. For lunch, or a late dinner, I am finding myself time and time again tucking into plate after plate of excellent pasta or steak sandwiches at The Eagle on Farringdon Road.
For those with an interest in restaurants (and good eating) The Eagle is an icon. Once described as a ‘stud farm’ for chefs its influence can not be understated. A quick overview of alumni reads very much as a ‘who’s who’ in the world of food & drink: David Eyre (Eyre Brothers), Sam & Sam Clark (Moro & Morito), Margot Henderson (Rochelle Canteen), Harry Lester (formerly of Auberge de Chassignolles now at Le Saint-Eutrope), Alex Szork (Hill & Szork), Trish Hilferty (Canton Arms), Tom Norrington Davis (Great Queen Street)…the list goes on. For somewhere so rich in history you’d be forgiven for thinking that The Eagle might be the equivalent of a National Trust property – preserved in aspic, where something important once happened…
The reality is somewhat different. The legendary status is worn very lightly, if at all, and apart from a few licks of paint, the addition of a very limited dessert menu (not just Portuguese tarts!) The Eagle operates much as it has done for the past quarter of a century with owner Michael Belben still out on the floor most services, and head chef Ed Mothershaw (there have only been four head chefs in 25 years) knocking out plate after plate of great food. It is a rare occasion when you step into The Eagle and look up at the menu hung above the stoves to find even one dish that you don’t want to eat!
25 years since opening the menu (still chalked up twice daily) doesn’t look quite as exotic as perhaps it once did. The strange or esoteric (try finding salt cod on a menu in 1991) is now very much the familiar, the flavours of Italy, Spain, north Africa and the wider mediterranean are now popular staples. The Eagle and the chefs and restauranteurs whom have done their time behind that bar-cum-kitchen have done much to educate and inform the tastes of diners in London and beyond. So much so that the influence of The Eagle can now be tasted far and wide – from Le Saint-Eutrope in Clermont-Ferrand to the Moro cookbooks you have on your bookshelf.
So hats off to The Eagle – 25 years of keeping it real – I look forward to another 25 and many more steak sandwiches!