This restaurant is now closed, but The Den at St Martins Lane hotel is still open and serves an all-day menu
The dining room at the St Martin’s Lane hotel has undergone a lot of change in recent years. It housed celebrity hotspot Asia de Cuba for two decades, but the restaurant closed its doors for good in 2019. Since then, it’s become St Martin’s Lane Kitchen, a pan-Asian restaurant which hosts occasional residencies.
Currently overseeing the menu is food writer and television personality Gizzi Erskine, who has teamed up with chef Michael Hanbury to create The Nitery, a pop up that is inspired by the Parisian niteries (nightclubs) of the 20th century.
The restrictions of a pop up mean that little has been done in the way of theming, although there are attractive artworks on the walls and an oversized cut-out of a crescent moon by the entrance, presumably to invite Insta-worthy posing.
Erskine’s menu is a celebration of comfort food, drawing on the cuisines of England, France and the US. You might think that broad range of influences represents a kitchen grappling to find its identity, but Erskine’s menu is executed with aplomb by herself and chef Hanbury. This is certainly not the place for virtuous eating, though, with the menu including the likes of dauphinoise potatoes paired with goat cutlets, or steak tartare drizzled with beef dripping and piled onto a slice of toasted brioche.
It’s the kind of restaurant that’s perfect for romantic dinners and cold nights with food that’s comforting, rich and utterly indulgent. To start, we enjoyed plump scallops served swimming in garlic butter, while our main course saw roasted chicken legs wrapped in crispy skin and paired with a mountain of golden shoestring fries to dip into bread sauce.
It should come as little surprise that puddings are as indulgent as the rest of the menu. We were tempted by the crepe Negroni (Erskine’s spin on Suzette) but couldn’t resist the queen of puddings, which provided an appropriately excessive end to our meal, its lid of stiff blow-torched meringue peaks giving way to a sponge soaked in the juices of rhubarb and blood orange.
With its homely menu and amiable staff, The Nitery is well placed to bring back a bit of buzz to this once famous dining haunt.