What: Soho’s favourite, Kettner’s Townhouse is back, having been bought up by Soho House it now returns as restaurant, Champagne bar and 33 bedroom boutique hotel.
New? London has had a long love affair with Kettner’s, it was established back in 1867 by August Kettner rumoured to have been chef to Napoleon III, it was one of first restaurants to serve French food. Remaining open for 149 years, it closed its door in 2016. However, it’s next chapter began in January.
Where? A minute from Soho House’s Dean Street Townhouse, you’ll find Kettner’s Townhouse at 29 Romilly Street, Soho, London W1D 5HP www.kettnerstownhouse.com
On the Menu: Keeping the tradition of Kettner’s Townhouse, the restaurant will continue to serve French inspired menus. On Sundays they serve a set menu, of bites on arrival, starters such as cured seabream and main courses of roast salmon en croute and beef Wellington. For pudding you’ll find pink grapefruit coupe, Ruinart champagne. Visit on other days and dishes include: beef bourguignon with roasted shallots and pommes puree; truffle roast Banham chicken, with duxelles and Pommes Anna, and Crème brulee with Madagascan vanilla.
The Look: The dining room is delightful, it rather reminds me of being in a slightly chintzy sitting room mixed with a French restaurant. It’s a light, airy space, lined with mirrors and filled with trailing plants. Detailed plastering sits alongside clustered pendant lighting and patterned fabric chairs and banquettes.
What We Ate: We started with the bites which were substantial: mini Scotch eggs, gooey, caramelised French onion tart with anchovies and gruyere gougeres, which give Adam Handling’s cheese doughnuts a run for their money. Not sure what I’m talking about? Head to The Frog E1 or Frog by Adam Handling and prepare to eat one of the best things in London. We scooped up the remaining parmesan off the plate and sprinkled our brioche rolls with it.
This was followed by a beef tartare, with a golden egg yolk and topped with crunchy vegetable crisps. It was served with crispbread, but we had got a little bit excited with the brioche earlier so had to give these a miss if we were to make it to the main course. The main courses being the salmon en croute and beef wellington. The roast salmon en croute saw rich, buttery pastry wrap around a chunky slice of tender, flaky salmon which worked perfectly with a herb and leek veloute and served with roast potatoes, it was the comforting Sunday food you need on a rainy afternoon. The beef wellington was cooked perfectly, tender and full of flavour, the pastry soaking up the red wine jus, the potato puree didn’t quite match the roast potatoes. We couldn’t decide which we preferred, but both agreed we didn’t want to share more than a mouthful, it’s too good to give to someone else.
Almost defeated by the puddings, we waited some time until we (this time managing to) share a tarte bourdaloue which was neither here nor there and rounding off with a peppermint tea – how very wild of us.
What We Drank: Chasing away the Sunday blues we drank a bottle of Champagne Blanc de Noirs, Brut.
Go With: Take your friends or your parents, apart from maybe young children, it’s suitable for all. Besides from one table that was 30% lip filler and 20% awful baker boy hats that should have been left behind in the early 2000s, it had attracted the red corduroy, cashmere jumper wearing brigade. There were girls sporting 1920s turbans, men who probably partied at Kettner’s back in 1960 and those who most likely featured in the 1980’s Sloane Ranger Handbook.
Final Word: For £30, this is well worth the money. The staff is charming, the atmosphere is homely yet with a sense of occasion and the food is top notch. I would happily give up having a Sunday roast for that salmon en croute every week.
Kettner’s Townhouse: 29 Romilly Street, Soho, London W1D 5HP www.kettnerstownhouse.com