London WC2B 4BB
Tel: 020 7499 8558
Mon-Fri: 7am – Midnight
Sat: 8am – Midnight
Sun: 11am – 11pm
I apologise if this all sounds a little bit ‘X Factor’ but I recently had the pleasure of meeting one of my three restaurant idols, Keith McNally. This East End Londoner is famous for putting his stamp on the Manhattan dining scene with such places as Balthazar, Schiller’s and Minetta Tavern. Ironically McNally was at Mishkin’s, the latest opening from another idol, Russell Norman. If you had to compare the man behind Polpo and its siblings to another restaurateur, then it probably would be McNally. These two get behind the skin of a restaurant and make it into a personality, resulting in their restaurants being some of the coolest hang outs in both London and Manhattan, respectively. McNally is now back living in on home soil, having bought a house in Notting Hill while he oversees the much anticipated opening of his first restaurant in London at the former Theatre Museum in Covent Garden, which is being funded by Richard Caring.
This decadent building on the corner of the Inigo Jones designed Piazza and Russell Street was originally meant to open its doors last week as The Delaunay, from the fastidious Jeremy King and Chris Corbin. The Delauany did open its doors last week but a little further up the road on Aldwych but lets put that story aside for a rainy day.
Jeremy King, my third restaurant role model, is the gentle giant of the restaurant world. The other night, only the second night they had been fully open, he was majestically greeting guests at their tables. The true ambassador to old school service. The room has been designed by the soft-spoken Dubliner, David Collins The dark wood panelled room oozes a ‘clubby’ feel that is echoed by the leather curtain that hangs by reception and the art work in the bar. The two men who brought us The Ivy clearly had a bit of nostalgia when designing this room.
There are glimpses of The Wolseley with the horseshoe seating plan in the centre of the room and similar cosy leather banquettes but in racing green rather than black and of course, the friendly faces of the staff. Sebastian Fogg, who started his career at The Ivy and went across the pond to open the Monkey Bar in New York before going to Caprice Holdings to open Soho House West Hollywood and Dean Street Townhouse, has returned home. The exuberant Marcus and Irish charm of Fergal, both from The Wolseley, make you feel most welcome.
The menu is large, as it should be for an all day European cafe with the inspiration from the grand cafes of Vienna and Budapest. We started with Winter beetroot and Honeyed Goats’ Curd salad and Tarte Flambee. The tarte with its crispy base had a liberal layer of creamy sauce, smoked bacon and shallots. The salad was like an artists palette with the magenta of the beetroot and the curd cut through the earthy flavour of the root vegetable.
There is a section of the menu titled Weiners with the traditional Frankfurter priced at £9.00 served with a potato salad, sauerkraut and caramelised onions. We opted for the choice of two for £9.75 to include a Berner Wurstel. The spathcock poussin and the Kedgree both deserve a mention from the stellar list of dishes on the menu. The trusty Wiener Schnitzel and Croque monsieur, two of my favourite dishes from 160 Piccadilly, are also on the menu.
Those with a sweet tooth are catered for admirably. The Scheiterhaufen with calvados sauce is a mix between what you and I would call an apple strudel and bread and butter pudding. The Salzburg souffle with apricot compote is a fluffy delight that seems to somewhat float in the oval copper pan that it was served in. Under the coupes list on the menu, is the Lucian. Dedicated to the great man himself, Lucian Freud, who became a great friend of Jeremy and Chris as well as their most regular diner. The wine list has the civilsed touch with all of them being available by the glass, carafe and bottle. Those are the little touches that make such a difference.
There is an elevated clock at the back of dining room that tells all in the room the time. Time is the key to what Jeremy and Chris are all about. They create places that are timeless. They are patient. They have been waiting for the right opportunities to come along and like a London bus, three come along at once with the opening of Brasserie Zedel and the Oriel site next year.
In time, meeting under the clock at The Delaunay will be the London equivalent of meeting by the clock in the lobby at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.
Meal for two with wine is approximately £100 including service.