I’ve been waiting for months for the arrival of The Delaunay on Aldwych, just south of Covent Garden, so I treated myself to an indulgent breakfast before saying goodbye to London for 2011.
The Delaunay is the new all-day brasserie from The Wolsely owners Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, located on the site of the former Bank restaurant (no…I don’t remember it either).
It’s the second contributor to a kind of foodie renaissance, the first being Russell Norman’s Jewish deli/cocktail bar Mishkin’s and the next is the upcoming arrival of Balthazar. This regeneration could see Covent Garden take over Soho and Mayfair as the city’s most exciting food destination.
Despite living in London for almost four years, I haven’t yet made it to The Wolseley, so I’m experiencing The Delaunay with fresh eyes and no reference point to the iconic grandeur of The Wolseley.
The Delaunay has the atmosphere of a grand European cafe with a mittel-European menu of comforting classics.
Arriving at The Delaunay was like stepping into another era of elegance, ceremony and restrained luxury. I left my coat in the traditional cloakroom and was escorted through the slightly more informal front room, past the tempting vienoisserie table through to a cosy corner table with a green leather banquette built into dark wood panelling.
On the bottom of the menu, The Delaunay dogmatically lists its ‘dos and don’ts’, which huffed me a bit, and one rule was ‘no photography’. Even though the dining room was less than half full and there appeared to be no political figures playing hookie, I didn’t want to risk being audibly scolded for bringing out my Canon DSLR, but managed to take some sneaky camera phone pics.
I was greeted immediately by a polite, attentive waiter and ordered a pot of Delaunay Blend tea (£3.90). Like The Wolseley, The Delaunay has an indulgent selection of flavoured coffees and gourmet hot chocolates, which would be perfect for escaping the chill on a winter afternoon, but for breakfast only tea would do.
The tea came served in a large silver tea pot with a ceremonial strainer, ready to be poured into the classic monogrammed china cup and saucer. The Delaunay Blend had a malted, fragrant taste, with a hint of bergamot.
The test of a great breakfast destination is how it makes Eggs Benedict (£7/£13.50) so The Delaunay was duly subjected to my usual breakfast assessment. The toasted muffins were thick, springy and slightly sweet, the poached eggs were exemplary, the ham was high quality and full of flavour and the hollandaise had a creamy texture with a pleasing vinegar sharpness.
My granary toast was slightly burnt – hardly a big deal, but not expected from the new restaurant with its breakfast immortalised in Breakfast at the Wolseley by A.A Gill and a less than half full dining room.
Breakfast was leisurely and unhurried, however all of my requests were met quickly by the charming, capable staff.
The bill came to £19.58 and pleasingly, the £2 cover charge wasn’t enforced (perhaps this is only at dinner). The Eggs Benedict are quite highly priced, especially compared to the rest of the breakfast menu, but they are exceptionally good and filling.
The Delaunay is an impressive, elegant destination for breakfast and luckily it hasn’t been completely colonised by businessmen and the fashion set as yet, although its proximity to Somerset House means it’s likely to be a beacon for all the action next season.
For more info and reservations, visit: www.thedelaunay.com