Loving food as I do, one of the activities I enjoy the most is eating out. Unfortunately, having two children under five as well ever increasing expenses, dining out is a luxury rather than a weekly occurrence. However, I was lucky enough to be asked to review some of the restaurants in the Soho House Group for Flavour Magazine, London and guess what? I was there like a rocket! My first mission was dining at the very trendy Dean Street Townhouse, where comfort food as well as seasonality was very high on the agenda. I’d go back again in a heartbeat, particularly for the hand-made scotch eggs and the twice-baked smoked haddock soufflé.
A short walk into Soho and the Dean Street Townhouse greets you with its classical Georgian style. The Townhouse’s exterior is clean and beautifully imposing, with large sash windows. Even on a Tuesday evening the popularity of this non-members Soho House Group hotel, bar and dining room is obvious, with a line of people being turned away at the door. It is a hot spot for visitors, unashamedly fashionable both in décor and destination.
Once inside, the main floor is classic American dining room meets French bistro. The long bar complete with low hanging lamps and tall bar stools dominates the edge of the dining room. Striking red-leather benches and booths contrast with immaculate linen-covered tables, polished silver and dark mahogany chairs. The area plays host to the local in-crowd, sinking beer from traditional dimpled pint glasses or sipping classic cocktails and champagne. At the front of the dining room are roomier tables with velvet-covered lounge chairs depicting quintessentially vintage British members’ club chic.
The dining room is low lit and the atmosphere buzzing and lively with waiters providing a slick and attentive service. The Townhouse menu is given its particular edge by the influence of Cornish-raised experienced Head Chef Stephen Tonkin, who has enjoyed stints at The Ivy and Le Caprice. A protégé of Brian Turner, his food is classically British with a huge emphasis on seasonal food.
Comfort food and childhood nostalgia is high on the agenda, with macaroni cheese, roast chicken and puddings such as jam roly poly and lemon meringue more than holding their own on the menu. Handmade fish fingers and delightful Scotch eggs provide a popular snack for the 4pm crowd.
The menu changes fortnightly to showcase more modern seasonal ingredients. Standout starters are the ever-popular, delicate yet decadent twice-baked smoked haddock soufflé (£8.75). We couldn’t miss the much-talked-about mince and potatoes (£11.50), presented as a bowl of mince with a side of boiled potatoes, each mouthful is packed solid with flavour and ends with an almost sweet note. This sort of dish is a perfect example of Steven Tonkin’s confidence in simplicity and exactly what keeps people coming back.
Whether you’re lucky enough to get a table or a seat at the bar, Dean Street Townhouse guarantees high quality food in stylish surroundings.
This review was first published in Flavour Magazine, London in April 2011. With many thanks to Flavour Magazine and the Soho House Group.
Image credits – Soho House Group. The cost of the meal was covered by the Soho House Group.