Sunday, August 31, 2014

Review: The Delaunay

The London to-do list, part 1 of n

Based on what I've tried, the Delaunay is possibly the best
confectioners in London

So it seems that my time in London is coming to an end. My job brought me here two years ago and now it's moving me away again. I'm sure I'll be back - London isn't one those cities that people never come back to. I've actually kind of slacked off on reviewing London restaurants. This is partly because my schedule has meant I've spent a lot of time eating in random places that have been quite good, but not good enough to motivate an immediate review. However, over the last few months I've been trying to rectify this by trying out places that have either come to me highly recommended or are special to me in some way. As with any to-do list, it's been growing ever since its inception and I'm not sure when it's going to end, but expect this to be the theme for the next few posts.

The interior: vast, with dark wooden furniture and panelling,
white table cloth and smart service.

I found the Delaunay online while looking for a place to brunch. Central London is a bit far from Richmond though and I'd never made the trip until recently when I popped in for cake after dinner at Koya with a friend. The cakes, I have to say, were the best I've had in London and will be heavily influencing the food score for this review. The Delaunay is a great place to keep in mind for something sweet and a coffee late at night. I vowed to come back for a fuller meal, and so made plans for brunch with two other friends I'd have had to come to Central London to meet anyway. I'd made a reservation online and upon coming in we were shown straight to our table. The main interior of the restaurant, past the bar and it's few tables, is a rather grand room of gleaming wood and white table cloth bustling with people. A bit noisy, which I suppose can be a good or bad thing depending on what kind of vibe you're in the mood for. 

Interestingly shaped and very fresh bread

Bread and butter were brought to our table soon after we sat down, and a waiter asked if we wanted our water still or sparkling. As the water arrived, a waitress took our order for drinks, although juices were not listed on the menu and we had to ask for them specifically. The Delaunay's brunch menu is quite extensive, which made me really happy since I've missed proper brunches since moving to the UK. Menus at chains near where I live focus too much on breakfast and these strange things called 'light options'. We spent quite a while perusing, asking the waitress for extra time, and I can report that they had everything from pastries, eggs and sandwiches to (I presume) Viennese staples like schnitzel and weiner. Also oysters! 

Oysters with lemon, tabasco, shallots in red win vinegar
and butter bread?

And of course, I ordered oysters. Just two - because I've avoided oysters ever since a rather unfavourable encounter with them at age nine. Luckily this meal helped me get over said encounter. I suspect the oysters I'd had as a child, which smelled very strongly of the sea, were not very well cleaned or not fresh. These were more mild, not very different in texture and scent compared to other seafood but perhaps a little more creamy. Definitely something to look out for at future meals. And if anyone can tell me what the bread was for I'd be grateful.

On the left, both pork weiners. One wrapped in bacon and filled
with cheese, the other lightly spiced. On the right, a New York
style hot dog.

Beef frankfurter, potato salad, sauerkraut and caramelised onion.

Of course, those two oysters weren't the only thing we had. I opted for the beef frankfurters because I wanted a weiner given their prominence on the menu, but had to pick these given the rest were pork. They completely blew away any other (supermarket) frankfurter I've had in the past, which usually taste like salty, spongy beef. These made me think of actual meat, and I believe they had a slightly peppery flavour. My friends reported similarly positive experiences with their food. The allegedly spicy weiner is actually nothing of the sort but still good, and the cheese filled weiner was deemed to be the better choice. Apologies for not remembering the actual names for the weiners, but our waitress was quite happy to describe each of them to us so feel free to ask. The accompanying potato salad with herbs and whole grain mustard was also very good, and added just enough carbohydrate to the meal. My only confusion pertains to the humungous mound of sauerkraut - why? Neither my friend nor I were able to finish ours. 

Lemon and pistachio mille feuille

As our table was cleared away I enthusiastically asked for the dessert menu. To be honest, despite the good food, dessert was what I had been looking forward to the most. I opted for the excellent lemon and pistachio mille feuille. It was delicately flavoured with neither the pistachio nor the lemon fighting for dominance, and the lemon was not overly sour as sometimes happens. My only criticism is on the pastry, which was slightly tougher than I'm used to. My friend opted for a raspberry and chocolate shortbread which she enjoyed very much and I have similarly positive things to say about the other pastries I've had here previously. The coffee and rum cake on their menu is a must try and a chocolate and orange sponge I recall having here was also very good. If I'm ever in town again for my birthday, these are the people who I'm going to get my cake from.

Our final bill for three came to £22 per head for a drink and main each, and desserts for two. Looking at the Delaunay menu, I realise that this is probably on the lower end of what someone can end up paying for brunch here. We'd opted for the cheaper weiners at £11 each, but other dishes can go up to £18. I should also point out that the desserts, while amazing, are quite expensive and start at £5.50. Nevertheless, I'm glad that the menu has a range of prices as it makes the venue a little more accessible. Service was professional and very friendly - and every waiter or waitress we had was excellent bar one rather dour faced chap who I suppose was having a bad day. Bearing this in mind, slightly lower scores below for value and service below, but the food, especially the cakes, deserve something higher.

Food: 7/10
Service: 6.5/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Value: 6.5/10

Final Score: 7/10

Contact Information
A: 55 Aldwych, London WC2B 4BB
T: +44 20 7499 8558

NB. The final score, while influenced by the sub-scores, is a qualitative reflection of my overall impression of the establishment.

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