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Heist Bank opened in June 2016, so we’re glad we got in there early to try this exciting new restaurant in Paddington.
Food and drink
We began with three of the intriguing selection of small plates (don’t worry it’s not all about sharing). I loved the olive and cheese curd donuts but the boyfriend found them a little heavy. The n’duja (it’s an Italian spiced pork salami) croquettes were sumptuous and came with a stealthily fierce wild garlic mayo. The grilled squid could have been more charred for my liking but the flavour was good and worked well with the creamed and grilled corn with bacon crumb.
The star attraction here are the fabulous pizzas with contemporary toppings fresh from the Italian wood-fired oven. We tried the delicious lamb, preserved lemon, feta and wild rocket combo – perfect for a sultry summer evening. The bases are thin and salty yet not too crisp and maintain a sexy wetness (like all the best pizzas). Other offbeat toppings include cauliflower (with four cheeses and caraway) and smoked sausage and hispi cabbage with chili and smoked mozzarella – it’s so, so tempting to try them all!
If you’re not in a pizza state of mind, there are plenty of other mains to choose from. We opted for the deliciously chargrilled hangar steak served sliced over a bed of red and baby silverskin onions. It’s accompanied by a bone-marrow butter which sadly refused to melt as the beef arrived too cool. The super-crunchy chips were the perfect accompaniment.
If you’re after something more tapas-y (I’ve fearlessly invented that expression for you) there are cured meats and snacks a-plenty. We tried the chewy homemade ‘beer sticks (think upmarket Pepperoni); and the more-ish ‘beer nuts’ were a cut above your average dry-roasted pub nibble.
There’s a short and sensibly-priced cocktail list (all £9) and a hot-right-now selection of flavoured gin and tonics (all £9.50). We tried the long, fruity Beefeater gin, lemon and blackberry liqueur ‘Bramble’ and a zingy ‘Dark and Stormy’ with Gosling’s dark rum, lime and ginger syrup and soda water. We supped a bottle of Argentinian Malbec with our mains but the beers here are a big deal too. They brew their own and there’s an interesting selection on tap. You can even take home a growler (that’s a 1.89L flagon of beer, not your date for the night).
We finished with a disappointing chocolate, peanut, raspberry and cream pizza. Sweet pizzas are a ‘thing’ now but alas this one was just too dry. Plump for the summer pudding instead; a fantastic balance of sweet and tart with a true homemade taste and aesthetic.
Look and vibe
The stripped back interior (it’s been vacant since the block was recently completed) is dominated by exposed concrete walls and a reclaimed parquet floor. Mismatched Formica and wooden tables give a laid-back vibe whilst school-style chairs give an ironic institutional feel. There is a series of bright, graphic artworks by Thierry Noir and a striking blue baize pool table courtesy of Cléon Daniel. The dramatic stairwell, which leads to a basement private dining area, is dominated by an enormous light-box work by streetart darling Pure Evil.
Straight after work there’s a businessy, suited crowd in the bar and a more relaxed vibe in the separate dining area. It’s open all day and even does brunch.
If you go for the full monty expect to pay around £50 per person (based on bar snacks, three small plates to share, mains and puddings with two cocktails and a bottle of wine). But you could grab a pizza for lunch from as little as £8!
The bottom line
An insider alternative to Paddington chains and tourist traps, this funky pizza and beer house is sure to hit the spot.
Heist Bank, 5 North Wharf Road, Paddington, London W2 1LA, heistbank.com