Charlie’s at Brown’s

Bronze Award

SquareMeal Review of Charlie’s at Brown’s

Bronze Award

You wouldn’t expect London’s oldest hotel to stick with the same restaurant for its 182-year history but even for somewhere founded in 1837, Brown’s feels like it has been through more dining rooms than Britain has had prime ministers.

This latest incarnation (following 21st-century offerings from Mark Hix and Heinz Beck) comes courtesy of chef Adam Byatt, whose Trinity was one of the first restaurants to make a dining destination out of Clapham.

‘Nature to plate’ is a strong theme of the classic-meets-contemporary menu, though at these prices and in a hotel of this pedigree, well-sourced seasonal British ingredients ought to be the least one can expect. Overall, we found the more traditional English grill-room dishes to be the most successful.

Moxons’ smoked salmon carved from the trolley was meatily textured, assertively flavoured and served not only with capers but a new-to-us topping of breadcrumbs with boiled egg. A whole Dover sole, filleted tableside, was a splendid piece of fish, the meunière sauce bathing the moist flesh in buttery juices, while a side order of creamed potatoes was the mash of our dreams. A wobbly crème caramel, meanwhile, was encircled by a moat of Sauternes-soaked raisins and tasted deliciously of burnt sugar. All terrific stuff.

But a spiced cauliflower salad with labneh seemed more like cauliflower bhaji with yoghurt dip, a vast-looking chicken and ham pie turned out to be only half full of meat daubed in a too-thick leek and tarragon sauce, while a millefeuille had a well-made vanilla custard sandwiched between inedibly dry pastry. None of these dishes would come remotely close to convincing well-travelled hotel guests that British food has left its unappetising past behind.

Charmingly old-school staff deliver spot-on service and are happy to match the right bottle from one of London’s biggest wine cellars, while the grand setting strikes a delicate balance between history and the here-and-now, blending heritage booths and wood paneling with colour-pop fabrics and modern art from some famous names.

On the food front, however, we’d suggest you go traditional all the way – not least a Sunday roast with all the trimmings.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £50 - £79
Quiet conversation, Traditional
Food Occasions
Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, Sunday roast
Special Features
Counter dining, Vegetarian options, Wheelchair access
Celebrations, Special occasions

About Charlie’s at Brown’s

Sir Rocco Forte might have bid farewell to acclaimed chef Heinz Beck after his year-long residency at the distinguished Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair, but he’s found a suitably high-profile replacement in new chef-director, Adam Byatt. A familiar face from television programmes such as Saturday Kitchen, Byatt is best known in the industry as chef proprietor of Michelin-starred Trinity restaurant in Clapham, which he runs in addition to Upstairs at Trinity and British neighbourhood eatery, Bistro Union.

While Beck was renowned for his skill with pasta, Byatt is an ambassador of high-quality British ingredients. Describing himself as a ‘truly British chef’, his passion for seasonality and the great outdoors is matched only by his extraordinary energy and a desire to showcase the very best the country has to offer in his cooking. It’s this natural synergy with Brown’s – a hotel since 1837 and home to the capital’s first public dining room – that has created such a buzz around his new post.

The hotel’s attractively refurbished wood-panelled grill room, newly rechristened Charlie’s, has been brought into the 21st century by the addition of bold wallpaper, brightly coloured upholstery and soft lighting, making it the ideal setting for a menu that celebrates innovative British cooking coloured with European influences.

On the food front, Byatt’s dishes include more traditional assemblies such as whole poached salmon and roasted Yorkshire grouse with blackberries and bread sauce alongside the types of pretty plates Byatt is well known for, such as fried courgette flowers with truffle honey.

Dining at Brown’s is about more than just the food, though. The restaurant’s white-jacketed waiters are as old school as they come (knowledgeable, polite and exacting in their standards), as are its eye-watering wine prices. Still, we think it’s an experience worth paying for, even if it is just the once.


Brown’s Hotel, 33 Albemarle Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 4BP

020 7518 4004


Opening Times

Mon 07:00-10:30
Tue 07:00-10:30
Wed 07:00-10:30
Thu 07:00-10:30
Fri 07:00-10:30
Sat 07:00-10:30
Sun 07:30-11:00
Mon 12:00-14:30
Tue 12:00-14:30
Wed 12:00-14:30
Thu 12:00-14:30
Fri 12:00-14:30
Sat 12:00-14:30
Sun 12:30-16:00
Mon 18:30-22:00
Tue 18:30-22:00
Wed 18:30-22:00
Thu 18:30-22:00
Fri 18:30-22:00
Sat 18:30-22:00
Sun 19:00-22:30


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1 Review 

john E

08 October 2021   - Verified Diner
Food & Drink 4
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 5
Calm and Stylish

Excellent choice if you want style and space. A delightful dining room, not too restauranty not too hotely - the best of both.

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