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|Address:||69-71 Dean Street, London W1D 3SE|
|Tel:||020 7434 1775|
|Price: £51.00||Wine: £22.00||Champagne: £47.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sat 7am-12M (Sat 8am- ) Sun 8am-11pm|
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A mashup review of the last few visits…
Where: Dean Street Townhouse, Soho
With whom: Most recently, me and the Insider, a couple of times before Christmas with various clients and colleagues and a very enjoyable night with Vole and the Travellers
How much?: The Insider had a couple of pricy glasses of Crozes Hermitage that brought it to £35 a head for one course, drinks and coffees, but between £11 and £16 for a main course generally with starters and deserts around the £5 to £8 mark.
I'm not normally the pretentious sort, or the kind to show off, but when the Insider called me up on Wednesday with “are you free for lunch, I need to tell you something.. you book it, I trust you”, there really wasn't anywhere else I was going to take him.
The lovely Gina, formerly of the Ivy, is running the Front of House and it's certainly got the relaxed but with it vibe you'd expect from one of the Caprice Holdings operations. Restaurants where you're made to feel welcome… not everyone's cup of tea, but it's a perfectly executed ‘how to’ guide to a modern British restaurant appealing to the widest range of people and while it won't get in the way of some of my exploring, I'll certainly be a regular there for a good time to come.
It's got a grown up feel to it, despite the slightly yawnsome ‘risque’ Victorian pictures balancing the Gavin Turk prints. I like how the team are on the ball and so polite but not deferential, there's a certain balance to be gained with waiting teams and the guys here certainly have it. A niggle on the timings but nothing massive, and it was a very busy serving.. we rolled out after 3pm and it was still full of the great and good of Soho's media scene.
And the food? What can I say, it's very good… basic, and I do mean that in a good way, 10 or so starters including a beautifully dense and salty potted ham served with a punchy piccalilli and a homemade Scotch Egg (that seemed to have vanished from the menu this visit…)
Waiting for the Insider to turn up gave me chance to sit back and people watch, I haven't sat at their long bar yet, but that's got to be the biggest disadvantage… you want to be somewhere you can see what's going on and not hear it happening behind you. He turned up with whispered tales of the theatrical world that I've (semi) left behind, and I love catching up on the gossip so I don't begrudge his trip to the most expensive glass on the wine list, my Argentinian Malbec is perfectly acceptable.
The mains are exactly what you'd expect to see on a great British menu… if I were presented this little list at the final supper I certainly wouldn't have any complaints. The meat is sure of its provenance but not intent on telling you everything. We get that the (large portion of) panfried monkfish with fennel is from Cornwall, but we don't need to know the name of the boat, or what the fisherman got for Christmas.
Previously I've gone meaty, trying the Mixed Grill – a wonderful sausage and a bubble and squeak cake won me over the kidneys, the perfectly cooked, marbled Rib-Steak and the Salt Beef – slightly disappointing with most of that layer of lovely moist fat removed, but an almost New York sized portion for a pre-Christmas lunch. This time I went for the Fish & Chips. Light batter (importantly not too much of it) served on a slick of minted mushy marrow-fat peas with a feisty tartare sauce on the side. Chips were forgettable. The Insider went for some very good looking pork cheeks which came in a shining gravy.
Rolling out after a nice coffee and a good few hours out of the office, we reflected that this was what our Soho kind had been doing for many years. It's how business round here seems to happen, and the Dean Street Townhouse looks and feels like it's been part of that scene for considerably longer than the 6 months they've been trading for.