One Leicester Street officially opened today. Hurrah!
The name may not be familiar but the location will be. It’s literally footsteps away from Leicester Square and is the restaurant formerly owned by Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver, known at St John Chinatown. I had a fabulous meal there in 2012, when David Chang was guest chef for the evening and I’d intended to go back to try the normal menu. Unfortunately before I got a chance, the hotel and restaurant went into administration and were sold to Unlimited Collection, which owns a number of hotels and restaurants. Although the restaurant is no longer part of the St John Group, Tom Harris stayed on as head chef and given he earned a Michelin Star in his short time at St John Chinatown, I was delighted to finally get a chance to try his cooking at the soft launch a couple of weeks ago.
I went on a Friday night with some colleagues, one of whom (a vegetarian) we literally kidnapped and bundled into a taxi at the last minute. I’d been looking for somewhere central that we could sit all night, relatively undisturbed, and have a good old chinwag whilst tucking into some interesting food and drink. One Leicester Street fitted the bill exactly.
The menu is a mixture of small plates and large plates, split into shellfish/fish, meat/offal, vegetables, cheese and puddings. Everything comes when it’s ready and we were encouraged to share. This was ideal for the type of evening that we had in mind as everything just kept flowing; the food, the drink and the conversation. The restaurant itself is also conducive to this. It’s quite simple and smart, with dark wood and muted tones. The tables are close enough together to give the feel of a busy room but not so close that you feel like your neighbours are listening in on your conversation.
The best thing about a soft launch is that you get a discount on the food and in this instance it was a healthy 50%. We therefore did the honorable thing and ordered almost the entire menu, 17 of the 22 items on there.
I thoroughly enjoyed all of the dishes. The theme was simple but creative. A limited number of ingredients were used and each dish was delicate yet full of flavour. My particular favourites were the scallop, the snails, the broad beans and the honeycomb dessert but I really did love it all. It was wonderful to be able to try so many different things.
The options were perhaps a little too limited for our vegetarian friend, who selflessly let us all tuck into the vegetarian dishes, despite not being able to eat any of the meat or fish options. However, despite his initial reservations, quality triumphed over quantity and he gave it a thumbs up at the end of the night.
Here are a few pics of our delicious meal, which was accompanied by a couple of bottles of Bulgarian wine, recommended by our lovely waitress, Iona. In normal circumstances we would never have chosen Bulgarian wines and they were a very pleasant surprise indeed!
I loved the beautiful illustration on the front of the menu
crab, fennel and monks beard
scallop, backfat and hazelnut
razor clams, salt lemon and white beans
snails, duck hearts and lovage
smoked dexter, beetroot and horseradish
braised broad beans, wild garlic and berkswell
grilled onion, goats curd and wild fennel
grilled middlewhite and rape greens
chicory and mustard salad
shaved ice, earl grey and pear
warm chocolate, puffed barley and malt
brown butter and honey tart
salt caramel, apple and hazelnut
kirkhams lancashire, honeycomb and water biscuit
harbourne blue, pickled quince and oat biscuit
Can’t beat a nice glass of dessert wine
This silly photo, taken at the end of the night, pretty much sums up what a wonderful time we had. I would most certainly recommend it for a meal with friends, an evening out with parents or for a date. Fabulous food, great service and a great central location. Leicester Square could do with a few more options like this and a few less Bella Italias!