Saturday, 2 October 2010

The Dean Street Townhouse REDUX - Oct 2010

Where: Dean Street Townhouse, Soho
With who: The Chief Barker
How much: Prices rising slightly, though not much... starters around £7 to £9 (other than the oysters) and while a few mains now creep above £20, most hover petulantly in their teens.

The Dean Street Townhouse was the first 'proper' restaurant I reviewed back in February and as I've been back a few times recently as the place comes round to its first birthday (November if you fancy sending a card) I thought a little re-review might be in order. 

I don't remember a bad review of DST when it first opened. The classic British menu, the Front of House team from The Ivy, the prices, the classic bistro decor with a few anarchic twists and the crowd, oh the beautiful crowd - All attracted the kind of slightly creepy and lascivious praise usually bestowed on singers in girl bands by middle aged men wistful for their youth.  

One year on, and they're still doing it. Sure, there have been some wrong turns over the year. They're still not full on the pre-theatre service (a perfect chance to visit if you haven't), mornings are likely to be costing more than they're making and the service is still 'quirky' in places (oddly better when they're busy, otherwise they have a tendency to 'look'  . They also haven't given up on the 'house special' of mince and potatoes despite it having been ordered once (disappointedly) in all of the times I've taken people there. 

But that being said, at 1pm on a Wednesday lunchtime the place was 70% full and building. By half past it was packed to the gills. A cathedral roar of appreciation for good food and good company. If you could bottle buzz, it would still smell like the Dean Street Townhouse. Old (really that old? it's only been a year) favourites such as the ham hock terrine still remain, like reprobates at a reunion. Salty, sumptuous and with a minimum of fucking around, it sits proud next to the oysters and a new shellfish bisque with brandy. Thankfully too, they still have the twice baked mackrel soufflĂ©. A cheesy unctuous wobble served with hardly needed parsley cream sauce.

For me one of the best signs of a good restaurant is a short, confident list of food, all of which appeals to your baser instincts. A great restaurant is one where three or four literally fight it out with your stomach for the honour of being picked. Here the classic ribeye fought a close battle with the roast Banham chicken but lost narrowly to a newish (and heathyish) option of seared squid, chorizo and anya potatoes (fingerlings to our North American cousins) served with a perky rocket salad and a hideously well priced Malbec. They've made a nod to the season, and there's a new season grouse on the menu, which the Chief Barker toyed with before going for the chuck. All served simply and properly.   

So Dean Street is growing up well. It's not and won't ever be, the place to go for that special occasion, but it's the best place right now for a great long lunch, or an early evening dinner with friends that takes you right through the night. 
Dean Street Townhouse on Urbanspoon

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