A hard-hat walk-around with Jeremy King in advance of its impending opening (soft launch w/c June 11th, full launch w/c June 18th or 25th).
Remember the Atlantic Bar & Grill? (You're dating yourself...)
Well, if you ever did hazard the velvet rope of Oliver Peyton's zeitgeisty '90s brasserie, the first change to notice is the entrance to this famous basement -- the site for über-restaurateurs Jeremy King and Christopher Corbin's latest venture.
It's moved!... just around the corner to Sherwood Street.
It worked better that way for Crown Estates, who have just spent £300m rebuilding the previously grotty Regent's Palace Hotel.
The streets around the exterior now seem disorientingly swish? Is this Soho? Am I really just off Piccadilly Circus?
Jeremy King was on hand to kindly give us a tour, and looked remarkably collected in the presence of so many builders who could have been doing so many things wrong.
Jeremy cited his late-teenage kids in posing the inspiration for this latest venture. Could he offer them a really decent Gallic-inspired brasserie for the same price as a bite at Wagamama?
He and Christopher Corbin of Rex Restaurants are the latest in a long tradition of restaurateurs to cite as their aim a classic Parisian brasserie – “where the Duchess could sit down with the Taxi Driver”.
So he promises Chartier meets La Coupole here.
Well, «Chapeau!» to that. But let's hope that -- as with so many famous ventures, such as Quaglino's in its day (and to some extent Rex's own Wolseley) -- it delivers on such egalitarian promise, and doesn't drift into becoming a more predictably pricey option.
(To be fair, Jeremy seemed to speak very sincerely on this score.)
The ubiquitous David Collins has overseen the revamp. What a project! Fabulous, fabulous Deco interiors, with glorious marble and wood features, dazzling wall-papers, mosaic floors, huge chandaliers, you name it.
The aim apparantly is to make Zédel feel like it has been there for 80 years.
That may be a tough nut to crack completely given how scrubbed up the Crown Estates have left the place: the cornicing fair sparkles with freshly applied gold leaf.
The brightly-lit main dining room will seat 230. There's a big crew to look after everyone: 170 bodies in total, with 50 in the kitchens.
A long menu will offer about 20 starters and main courses. Having a kitchen level with the dining room (not on the floor below, as it is at The Wolseley) will greatly simplify the practicalities of turning orders around quickly.
Much thought and planning, we are told, has gone towards making customer feel as comfy dropping by for a snack, as for a full-blown meal.
The 'American Bar' (in its Atlantic days, Dick's bar) looks as swell as it ever did. With table service, this will be a superb, glam new option in which to impress a date, when gadding about in the West End.
A cabaret is planned in the former private room (formerly Chez Cup).