Dean Street Townhouse is part of The Soho House Group. I’m not sure I knew how big that group was, before I looked it up. I feel like I’m the last person in London to have worked it out. FoodbloggerFAIL.
I first went during suicide for for a sensible meal time, the few days before Christmas, with my very good friend R. We knew we were pushing our luck, hoping to get anything decent, away from the Christmas drunks, but we thought we’d chance it.
She wanted to go to Burger & Lobster, but we’d both felt that a 3-hour wait was a little too much to ask, even for lovely lobster and I knew that if we waited in the bar and had the inevitable cocktails, that there was no chance of my being able to hold out without having to be helped out. Into a taxi. At my age, that isn’t a good look.
And so we walked across the road and they were charming and welcoming from the off, notwithstanding that they were packed to the gills and we didn’t have a reservation. Maybe it was the look of desperation on my face or maybe they are just lovely and understand the art of service.
And very charming they were again, when C and I rocked up on a balmy Sunday night, in search of simple food and no fuss. Eating out on Sunday. It’s a new thing for me. One about which I’m yet to be convinced. It’s never going to be the best time for a kitchen, after the Saturday peak. Add to that my Sunday night blues? It’s not a great combination. Plus I can’t drink much knowing I’ve got Monday morning just hours away. Sunday dining isn’t selling itself to me so far.
But given that it still is a thing, we persevere. The room is clubby and comfortable. Think dark wood, moody lighting and red leather banquettes. Music, but not to the point of interference. It feels like it has been there forever, not just since 2010, when it replaced a nasty Pitcher And Piano.
From the very informative website, I glean that this building has an interesting history. It was built between 1732 and 1735. It has passed through many incarnations, one of the more interesting being that it was the Gargoyle club, frequented by the likes of Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud. Oooh er. Soho royalty.
All this history makes my inner property geek quite happy. To the point where I think I might combine the food writing with a section on the history of each building. Ok, yawn away. But I like the idea. But then I remember that I have a day job and I am already juggling too many plates. In every sense of that phrase.
I digress. As usual. Cool and gentle food to start, on a hot day. Butter lettuce, pear and Gorgonzola salad, which was tasty and the leaves properly dressed, not drowned. I like a good butter lettuce, don’t you? It makes me think of old-fashioned salads of yore. Ones which, unfortunately, involved salad cream. Which isn’t such a lovely memory. I don’t even pretend to understand the retro-love for salad cream. I didn’t like it in the 1970s and I don’t like it now. Sharp, synthetic watered-down mayonnaise. What’s to like?
C had the twice-baked haddock soufflé with chopped chives. Pretty on the plate, it was rich and light at the same time. A simple dish, but properly done.
Then mince and potatoes. I just fancied it. Not sure why. It doesn’t exactly sing off the menu. But sometimes, when life is challenging, you want to go back to the nursery. Now we are six.
And this was superior comfort food indeed, with a really deeply intense flavour to the meat and gravy. Big, floury steamed potatoes, with chopped parsley on the side, served in a copper dish. £13.50. I liked it.
C ordered chicken. It was an enormous portion. Chicken and gravy with roast potatoes and vegetables. He managed about half of it. Such a lightweight. As queen of the clean plate, this behaviour is a mystery to me.
We didn’t even do that thing, you know-where they ask you if you want dessert and you say you’ll have a look at the menu. And then you get something to share. Or I ask you what you want and order the thing I want, regardless of what you say.
This isn’t a complicated menu. It’s comfort food with British ingredients. The food is keenly priced for the location, with a decent wine list and it feels comfortable and lived in and Soho-y without being Emperor’s new clothes. It’s the sort of place you could go on your own to eat at the long bar, without feeling like Nicky no-mates. Hell, I might even start a conversation with someone. You’ve been warned.