I loved everything about Brasserie Zedel, a new restaurant in the heart of the capital’s Theatreland. I accepted an invitation to their a ‘dress rehearsal’ and before I arrive, I’m sent an email warning me to expect a few hitches, so expected to jot down a list of negatives – frazzled, inept, clumsy and clueless – don’t make it to the pad.
The restaurant is a new offering from the men behind one of my favourite restaurants The Wolseley in Pall Mall and The Delaunay in the Aldwych. Chris Corbin and Jeremy King and it’s taken up prime real estate in the new development just off Piccadilly Circus. Its Sherwood Street entrance doesn’t scream “eat here we have a fabulous restaurant below stairs”. In fact on street level there’s what looks like to me to be a cafe, racks for Le Monde and Le Figaro are being fashioned out and I spy a bar of some kind. Not sure if it’s a zinc bar but let’s hope so.
It’s after you walk to the end of the carpeted corridor and through the large doors that you realise this place goes on forever.
A huge art deco brass banister, takes you down a sweeping staircase where you can only stare open-mouthed at the ceiling mural and the whopper of a chandelier , the size of which would have the Trotters breakout in beads of sweat when it comes to the cleaning. That means nothing to you readers who haven’t watched the Only Fools and Horses episode “A Touch Of Class” but please do go and rent it or find it online it’s an absolutely piece of classic comic writing.
The restaurant is designed by David Collins studio, and I wonder whether his team also helped Baz Luhrmann construct some of the sets on his soon-to-be-released working of The Great Gatsby.
The dining room is massive, probably the size of a rugby field, and for those who remember, the former site of the Atlantic Bar and Grill.
Pink starched linen covered by the regulation white paper tablecloth, and not a red and white check in sight. A huge clock set on French time, all marble, gold and mirrors. Definitely not a case of style over substance.
When we visit the light dimmer is on test and we’re subjected to a fifteen minute light show that would put Blackpool Borough Council to shame. The lighting went from positively dark to the blindingly light. My pictures are pretty shocking of everything, taken with an iPhone but the pink hue is the fault of the light.
The drinks waiter was rushed and ill-informed on the wine he was serving. In fairness he returned twice with information that he promised and I think I’ve written ‘Vermentino’ and Languedoc, so I’m taking a punt that it’s La Croix, Vermentino/Sauvignon Blanc Vin de Pays dOc, 2011. A thoroughly gluggable and perfect lunchtime white at a very reasonable £3.00 a glass.
I think the one miss with my starter the Parfait Foie Gras (£8.75) is that it came without bread of any kind. No toast, no brioche, no well nothing, although I was staring directly at the baguette station. It was simply served with a few pink peppercorns, lambs lettuce and a sweetened aspic gravel. Was I seriously expected to munch through this dense heart stopper without something on which to spread it? I asked if the toast was following, a fruit bread or chutney but, no. Apparently all you need for this one is a knife and fork and believe me, folks, a strong constitution. I managed a third and whilst the bread was excellent it didn’t seem to do it much justice. This was a fabulous parfait and needed something, but something delicate to work with it.
My guest, ‘Trainee Tom’ was forced, by me, to try the snails. A Helix virgin, he was wowed with the intense garlic, great texture of the snail and whilst totally unexpected, the verdict was that they were delicious.
For main course I had the plaice (£14.95) which comes with potatoes. The fish was fresh, and at one point had a very crispy skin but sadly like a holiday tan had faded all too quickly after sitting for some period under a lamp. The garlic French beans were delicious, crisp and full of flavour and I could have very easily have polished off a bowl of those on their own. I asked the waiter to leave the potatoes from my plate and give me some haricots instead. The bill didn’t feature a side order of beans, either a mistake or a very welcome change.
TT chose pork, a really pretty dish of food with Peter Rabbit-esque carrots placed top to tip around the generous portion of pork in a sea of richly seasoned jus. Cabbage was under there somewhere. No sides ordered and none needed.
Gratinee de Fruits Rouges was to die-for Haeberlin would have approved. The creamiest, vanilla-studded sabayon highlighted strawberries and fat raspberries. A blast of heat gave it a lovely crisp top and this made it out of the kitchen in time for me to appreciate it.
TT went for the chocolate mousse and I have a feeling the smaller dessert bowls hadn’t yet arrived. This was a monster portion of dense, chocolate heaven and the size of it beat us both.
As we left, we had a nosey in the ‘Bar Américain’ and ‘The Crazy Coqs’, a live music and cabaret venue. This place looks like it has the potential to transport you back to 1922 where the morals were loose and the liquor cheap. Je t’aime Zedel!
A 3-course lunch for two including three glasses of wine, sparkling mineral water, and coffee £66.80.
Brasserie Zedel, 20 Sherwood Street, London, W1F 7ED
020 7734 4888
Thanks to our waiter Gilles for his brilliant service and to the Zedel Management for picking up the tabs for us all. I cannot wait to return.