Harden's survey result
“Wonderful when it’s cold outside – with warm fires burning to make it very welcoming” – and blessed with a nice terrace for summer: this all-day Soho House brasserie (part of their hotel, in the heart of Soho) exudes just the right design pheromones to keep it permanently packed. “Just the job for a power breakfast – it serves decent kippers, cracking kedgeree and a full English that deserves the name”. At other times its English comfort food (when did you last see mince and potatoes on a menu?) neither greatly adds nor detracts from the experience.
“Soak up the superb atmosphere and enjoy!” – with a terrace in summer, and “wonderfully welcoming interior on a cold winter day, with warm fire and subdued lighting” – this slick operation (attached to a Soho House group hotel) makes a fantastic Soho rendezvous, for business or pleasure. The brasserie cooking has historically been a bit forgettable here, but it won consistent praise this year for its “honest” results. Top Tip: “Refreshing and dangerously delicious Bloody Marys” means there’s “no better way to start a weekend than with brunch here”.
“Watching the parade of Soho media types” can make for good sport at this “smooth” operation – an “atmospheric” brasserie with “a great buzz to it”. True to form for owners Soho House, “it’s a bit variable food and service-wise”, but generally it’s found “it’s an uplifting place to visit”, especially for “a great breakfast in cool surroundings”.
Soho House Group’s versatile brasserie in the heart of Soho itself, remains hugely popular. “It’s the buzzy feel of the place that makes it a great hangout”, although “the food’s fine” and “service is attentive and friendly for such a busy place”.
|Wine per bottle||£24.00|
Dean Street Townhouse W1
In the heart of Soho, a clubby Soho House group dining room serving simple English food realised to a consistently high standard; a first-day visit found an establishment already remarkably well into its swing.
How does Richard Caring do it? As restaurant groups get bigger, there is - nearly two decades of Harden's research suggests - an almost invariable tendency for them to get worse. Not so, it seems, with that Croesus of our times, Mr Caring, whose ever-growing empire includes Scott's, Sheekey's, The Ivy, Annabelle's'
Only a few weeks ago, he opened a second Caprice, in New York, which - on the basis of the FT's recent review - is already well up to the standards of the famously steady St James's original.
When we arrive on this new dining room's first day, Nick Jones - founder of the Soho House group, which is now mainly owned by Caring - is a discreet presence. Remarkably, he has little to do, as almost everything seems to be in perfect working order already.
The clubby dining room is not the most inspired we've ever seen and is quite tightly-packed, but it's comfortable enough. Its style seems a touch traditional for a new establishment in the middle of Soho, but that doesn't seem to be putting off the local media crowd, who are already very much in evidence.
The food - if not inspired or innovative - is very good too. Those individual hot loaves, with a big pat of butter, taste just like they did when Mark Hix - now finding success elsewhere - introduced them to the Caprice group.
The menu itself - apparently unchanging from day to day - is full of known and usual dishes, some very simple, but they are all very well done. The fish soup is intense. A mixed grill could be served a bit hotter' but then it is the first day. And an apple pie is pretty much faultless (as is the custard which comes with it).
Many people will be prepared to forego quite a lot of originality and ambition for such a high and consistent level of achievement. Especially when the wine list is wide-ranging, and offers some decent bottles at reasonable prices.
Admittedly, on our half-price preview day, service was not perfect, but it was trying hard, to the extent that we'd be amazed if it wasn't running pretty much perfectly by the end of the first week.
There is, then, every sign that Mr Caring - ably supported by Mr Jones - has yet another hit on his hands.
How long can this relentless march go on? Well, if the market moves against plainish English food served in plainish English surroundings, Mr Caring might have quite a problem on his hands. But until then'
69-71 Dean St, London, W1D 3SE
|Number of Diners:|
|Monday||7 am-12 am|
|Tuesday||7 am-12 am|
|Wednesday||7 am-12 am|
|Thursday||7 am-12 am|
|Friday||7 am-1 am|
|Saturday||8 am-1 am|
|Sunday||8 am-11 pm|