Sunday, 19 February 2012

The hottest table in town?

The Delaunay
55 The Aldwych

Cordon Du Chap (out of a possible five) : ❁❁❁❁

Crashing through the doors in my usually brash manner I felt rather pompous, after all it is not everyone who gets taken to lunch at one of London's hottest new restaurants. I had heard that it had become the darling of many celebrities and critics alike. the legendary Faye Maschler at the Evening Standard had called it 'terrific' and Guy Diamond (in Time Out) had lavished grandiose praise on their cookery even venturing to describe their souffle as having 'voluptuous curves and quivering mounds as salacious as any fantasy from the psychoanalyst's couch' (barf!). 

With such high regard as this then the restaurant had better be good, I thought, as we were led to out table in the cavernous dining room embelished to look like a late 19th century restaurant in the dying days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It had been one of those perfect mornings, leading up to lunch, from a passable blog post (detailing the night before) to a few refreshing Campari and sodas at the chic 'One Aldwych' my appetite had been whetted for the Hapsburg variation of the Wolsey. 

The buzz was electric and I certainly wouldn't have wanted to be a pensioner in this grand establishment otherwise my hearing aid would have been acting up a treat. Thank goodness that, whilst I have passably poor hearing it is not quite as bad as not to hear my companion. Goodness knows how my poor grandmother survived the place when she went a couple of weeks ago for lunch. 

Let me start with the positives of which there are quite a few. The food certainly lived up to all the hype that had been given it by the critics. I started with the Kedgeree with a hot and runny poached egg nestled daintily on the top. The taste was reminiscent of the similar and fabulous collation as served by the sadly departed 'Oriol' which used to nestle in the top corner of Sloane Square (before it was blackguardly shut down for apparently, amongst other reasons, the price of a meal). The fish was well well cooked and the accompanying sauce had a nice flavour with a slight kick that I think is all but essential in the preparation of this Colonial classic. 

I followed this with a Wiener Schnitzel one of the staple preparations of Viennese restaurants. Having eaten this dish at the Wolesey I was expecting an equally good show from this one, and I was not to be dissapointed. The meat was succulent and tender under crisp and golden breadcrumb. Dare I say it but veal cooked well is one of the finest meats in the world (I hope it was ethically sourced!), and the Delaunay get a double thumbs up for their very traditional interpretation. With a savoury, rich gravy underneath and accompanied by a mustardy potato salad and piquant pickled cucumbers, I had been transported back to the times of Metternich and the 1848 uprisings. 

The portions are very generous at the Delaunay, some might say a bit too generous. I, like a few other friend and members of my family feel that it is the curse of restaurants nowadays to put far too much on the plate. If truth be told I would have been happy with half the amount of meat on my plate. This is minor criticism but I was feeling incredibly full by the time I had finished main course. 

In light of the above paragraph, I was a little apprehensive about ordering a pudding lest I should burst! however, glancing at some of the pastries and cakes that were on offer I could not resist. I ordered a coffee eclair and had a cup of coffee and a whisky (over crushed ice) to go with it. Attention to detail is a big factor in contributing to what makes this restaurant worth a visit, and the incredibly naff cake fork that was produced alongside a first-rate eclair added to the experience. The coffee was a little weak for my liking but again this is a minor fault and easily remedied by asking for a strong cup. 

The atmosphere was friendly and jovial and the waiters were helpful, however like the Wolesey, it is very difficult to attract the attention of the large number of staff their. My companion also complained that the bottle of wine ordered (Gruner Veltliner) was kept chilled in an ice bucket miles away from the table and as such topped up too infrequently. Again, like the coffee this would be an easy thing for the restaurant to fix by leaving the bucket next to the table (or indeed a chilled bottle on the table) and let the guests help themselves (we were probably a bit timid to do so but, I'm sure they would have obliged had we asked). 

All in all it was a fine meal and to top the day off there was a healthy dose of celebrity spotting including the actor Bill Nighy who seemed to be very much enjoying the food at this impressive new establishment. Some may think that I have been a bit churlish to give the place four cordons, however this reflects on the issue that whilst the place is excellent there are still a few ragged edges (like the Wolesey) as specified above which could be ironed out with ease. 

I thoroughly recommend the Delauney to anyone who likes great food, however I would advice you to skip breakfast before you go!

1 comment:

  1. Oh Lordy! Kedgeree followed by Wiener Schnitzel? ~applause~ To be honest, I had been under the impression that the humble Wiener Schnitzel had died out in the 1970's. How pleased I am, to hear that it is undergoing something of a resurgence!