Hidden in plain sight: The Trading House, Gresham St

I walk along Gresham St in the City of London every day to get to the tube. I’ve probably noticed the unobtrusive sign or the menu moderately displayed on the wall.  But I’ve never really ‘noticed’ it.  In my quest for Allergy Girl friendly lunches I looked at several menus for bars and restaurants in the vicinity and my fellow eaters and I decided to give The Trading House a go.


Upon arrival my first impression is that the venue is quite dark. And there’s a step down almost immediately when you enter, so take care, especially if it’s a bright sunny day outside. The deco is interesting; probably what you would call Art Deco, with lots of tropical looking plants and the odd taxidermy zebra head on the wall. The feel is of a comfortable safari lodge from the 1920s/30s.  The building itself is magnificent, but really you’d expect nothing less nestled in between the Guildhall, St Lawrence Jewry and the London Central Courts. 

Following the usual question, the waitress swiftly arrived with the allergy menu. This was an A4 grid listing all of the menu items down one edge, the 14 major allergens listed along the top and a dot in each square of the grid signified that the allergen was present in the dish. Simples! 

The rest of the group were having starters (and I wouldn’t usually at lunchtime), so I chose one of the dishes from the ‘Nibbles’ section, pork crackling.  On arrival it was no ordinary dry bowl of pork fat. The portion was pretty big for a ‘nibble’, but I wouldn’t complain. The crackling was still slightly warm and topped with sliced green and red chillis. Alongside was a little dish of apple sauce, which was delicious. I pigged my way through the bowl of crackling, which left little room for my main. I could imagine this dish would be perfect for an after work snack with a beer or glass of wine, and would be perfect for sharing. You could order a few of the little nibbles and pick at them throughout the evening.

Sticking with the picky things theme I decided on the deli board for my main. This was approximately £11 and you could choose any four items from a choice of vegetables, cold meat, cheese and warm dishes.  This comes with an individual fougasse bread (which I had to Google, it’s a traditional French bread). I went for the hommous, roasted red and yellow peppers, lamb meatballs and honey roasted ham. 

The fougasse bread was delicious, particularly when dunked in the fresh, garlicky hommous.  The peppers were slightly blackened and drizzled in olive oil, which was the perfect pair for the hommous.  The lamb meatballs were almost cold when they arrived but the staff quickly swapped them and were extremely apologetic.  They came in a tomato and bean sauce which had a nice smoky, spicy kick to offset the garlic and oil from the other two dishes. With hindsight the ham didn’t work with the rest of it, and olives or prosciutto probably would have been a better combination. 

Unfortunately there were no dishes on the dessert menu that were Allergy Girl friendly, they all featured milk or eggs. Had I had room in my tummy for more food I might have been disappointed but I couldn’t have fit any more food in if I’d tried.  I ordered a chai tea instead to finish off my meal, and it was the perfect finish. 

I would highly recommend this restaurant for people with allergies and I’m certainly looking forward to finding another excuse to visit. Perhaps next time I’ll go for one of the speciality kebabs or half roasted chicken. My only criticism is that the allergy menu isn’t currently available online. 

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Cheat’s chicken and chorizo paella 

Ok, so this isn’t technically paella. For one, it isn’t cooked in a paella pan. It also doesn’t have any fish in it as that would make my face swell up and I’d stop breathing. So it’s more like paella rice and things. But all the same, it uses Spanish ingredients and flavours and goes brilliantly with a nice glass of Rioja (or two).

Serves 2

Ingredients 

1 skinless chicken breast, diced

1 red (bell) pepper, chopped

1 large white onion, diced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1/2 chorizo ring, sliced

Approx 250g paella rice

Pinch saffron

1/2 pint Chicken stock

1 small tin chopped tomatoes or one large fresh tomato, chopped

2 teaspoons sweet/smoked paprika or pimienton 

1 teaspoon hot paprika or pimienton (optional)

2 bay leaves 

Handful Frozen peas

Method

  1. Heat oven to approx 200c (190c if fan assisted).
  2. In a wok or sauté pan, fry the chorizo on a medium-high heat until the fat starts to come out. You shouldn’t need to add any additional fat or oil but if you do, use a drizzle of olive oil.
  3. Next add your chicken and brown. 
  4. Add the pepper, onions and garlic and cook until softened. 
  5. While the veg is softening, add the bay leaves to the pan.  Make up your chicken stock and add the saffron strands into the stock. The saffron will release its flavour into the stock. 
  6. Now add the paella rice, and the paprika/pimienton and stir together, making sure the paprika coats all of the rice.
  7. Add the chopped tomatoes and the chicken stock and stir together. 
  8. Add the frozen peas. I’ve suggested a handful but you can add as many as you like. If you don’t like peas you could substitute these with chickpeas. 
  9. Reduce the heat and cook for approx 5 mins, stirring occasionally to stop it sticking. Once the liquid has begun to reduce, tip your paella into an ovenproof dish with a lid. 
  10. Cook for approx 20 mins in the oven with the lid on, until the rice is soft and the edges of your paella are going a little bit crispy. You may want to stir it halfway through to make sure all the rice is fully cooked.
  11. Remove the bay leaves (and don’t be tempted to lick them, I did this once and it wasn’t good!)
  12. Enjoy! 

This recipe is very versatile and you can change the quantities of the ingredients quite easily.  I sometimes like to mix up different chorizos in my paella to give different flavours. Our local Sainsbury’s sells sweet (dolce) and hot (picante) chorizo so I’ll often add a bit of each. My recipe only uses one chicken breast but you can add two if you want more protein. If I fancy a spicy paella (which isn’t the traditional flavour) I add more hot pimienton. You could also add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice before serving.