Nostalgia is the world’s oldest product. Coca-Cola have been bottling it up and selling it forever. Christmas time is built on it. You’re probably reading this wearing your third pair of Converse this year. Few things carry as much consistent value in our increasingly temporary world as nostalgia. With that in mind, you can see why Sweetings, a 130 year old restaurant in the City, is still knocking about.
Sweetings is a seafood, lunch-only restaurant, because that’s the way it’s always been. It’s in the heart of the City, and it’s been serving business types whitebait, potted shrimp, pie, and crumble for much of it’s hundred year plus tenure. It serves nostalgia, a feeling that is rich and powerful, which is, incidentally, how a majority of Sweetings clientele probably like to feel on a regular basis. This is a place full of walking, talking, sentient signet rings, and the sound of the same anecdote, from different generations, about that moustached dinner lady in the school canteen.
The menu and white table clothed, wooden, decor has more than a whiff of boarding school dining room about it. Crab bisque and prawn cocktail are tasty, if overpriced. This doesn’t matter once you drain your tankard of black velvet, though. A pint of Guinness and champagne does wonders for everything. Who knew? Get one of these down you and you’ll find that suddenly, everything about Sweetings makes sense. There’s a very British atmosphere about the place. One that’s almost farcical. You’ve got someone shovelling the excellent fish pie beside you. Waistcoated waiters slapping down buttered sliced bread left right and centre. The suggestion of Ambrosia everywhere. Nobody would bat an eyelid if John Cleese emerged from the dumb waiter like a mantis having a stretch.
Sweetings is a novelty restaurant. An experiential City-boy experience. Accidentally bash heads with someone on Cannon Street around lunchtime, and you might just find yourself in here. Like Freaky Friday, but with Patrick Bateman. As with most nostalgic products, you pay over the odds to travel back in time at Sweetings. That’s okay though, because for most people (see: normal) this isn’t a daily occurrence. Nostalgia isn’t meant to be.
This is served with all the flair of a tin of Heinz. But, you know what, it’s a bowl of soup, and it tastes pretty good.
Pyrex bowl, check. Shredded iceberg lettuce, check. A pile of prawns and Marie Rose sauce, check. It looks and tastes as you’d expect.
It doesn’t come in a pot, but there is some lightly spiced shrimp. As is Sweetings’ way, this comes with some sliced white bread. Which is nostalgic ’n all, but not that great.
Like a hug from your mum, or getting into your duvet at 7pm in December. A fine fish pie.
If you haven’t double-mashed then you’re doing it all wrong. This comes with lobster bisque and chunks of the good stuff. Anyone got a trough?
Because we felt like we had to get something green (and creamy).
Eating this, we can almost hear the cheers as someone drops their lunch tray. Wahey.