Soho’s Dean Street Townhouse holds more hidden history than Rebekah Wade’s shredder. Hogarth lived here. Francis Bacon has propped up the bar. Ivor Novello knocked some walls down to expand while the various floors have played host to snooker clubs, message parlours and the infamous Gargoyle club.
I know all this thanks to Wikipedia – sent from my iPhone!!! – and a forty five minute wait for a friend. Nothing makes you look more like a fool than a gargantuan wait in a restaurant (aside, perhaps from custard pieing an octogenerian). Pairs of eyes across the room flutter your way briefly at first, then return more and more frequently as the wait progresses, their gaze a mix of growing interest, casual concern and mostly escalating glee at the prospect of witnessing someone being stood up. It’s usually those couples that have nothing to say to each other that gawp the most, deflecting the pity of their own situation and bouncing it onto some other schmuck.
Anyway, my wait ended after a large Borough Market Mary (Grey Goose with caraway, pumpkin and sunflower seeds added to tomato and horseradish, a grainy and interesting concoction if packing less punch than David Haye) and two rounds of warm white loaf and ice cold yet soft butter (brought, without asking and at no charge with endless water, which always strikes a good mood).
The roast itself was a 7/10 – that mark album reviews editors in the music press are supposed to avoid like the bubonic due to its ubiquitousness and ease of application to anything robustly mediocre – one solo slab of gristly flab ‘n’ flesh was cooked OK, potatoes came from good provenance but hadn’t received the full roastie nine yards, and veg was standard, although some firm beetroot provided an earthy counterpoint to the jugette of rich gravy. Cauliflower cheese in its own boat had more personality than usual (as did a shared mac cheese starter) and veggie’s beetroot hash cakes weren’t bad by all accounts.
We’re not talking paradise (by way of Kensal Rise) here by any means, but as a historic den of secrets to languish within, people-watching from a comfy banquette under the warm glow of a discreet amber lamp and keeping an eye on Soho’s goings on for a few hours, it’s definitely somewhere I’d return.
Price per head: £30.50
Clientele: The young, the pretty, the director of daytime TV’s best show Coach Trip (an old uni friend I bumped into. Turns out he done good. And yes, Brendan is as quality in the flesh apparently).