Having said goodbye to Heinz Beck after just over a year, Charlie's has just launched in the capable culinary hands of chef director, Adam Byatt
he restaurant at Brown’s Hotel has undergone several transformation in the last few years but has now returned the oak-panelled dining room that befits a dining room in a five star hotel in the centre of Mayfair. Renamed Charlie’s in honour of Sir Rocco Forte’s father Lord Charles (and not the Charlie Brown character from the Peanuts cartoon as has been debated). Olga Polizzi’s pretty botanical design remains largely unchanged and the whole room feels like you are in the middle of a rather grand country house. The clientele on the day we visited was a mixture of moneyed tourists and the art dealers and creative types from the local galleries; the room was buzzing with chatter and the clinking of glasses.
Byatt acts as the restaurant’s chef director, with the kitchen headed up by Matt Starling, formerly of Fera at Claridge’s. British classics on the menu are joined by modern European dishes, all embellished with a modern twist. Daily specials are served from a trolley at lunch, including spiced lamb shoulder, glazed Essex gammon or salmon en croute. We loved the amuse bouche of firm radishes accompanied by a blob of silky smoked cod’s roe with delicious focaccia and sourdough ciabatta.
The Dover sole was traditional British cooking at its best and cooked to perfection, served off the bone and gently pan fried with a butter sauce embellished with capers, lemon juice and parsley. A side order of crispy, triple cooked chips and some sautéed spinach and we were two very happy diners.
We shared the recommended salted caramel custard tart (a favourite at Adam’s restaurant Trinity in Clapham), a wafer thin pastry base with set custard filling salted nicely to balance the caramel’s sweetness.The ice-cream was pretty good too.
If you fancy a post-dinner drink, the fabulous Donovan Bar (named after photographer Terence Donovan whose work adorns the walls) is just next door and we think one of London’s best cocktail bars.
Yes, it’s a hotel restaurant but don’t let that put you off. The friendly staff make you feel like nothing is too much trouble and several diners were happily eating alone reading a newspaper and shooting the breeze with the charming front-of-house team. The menu has just enough of the classics to keep the regulars happy and plenty of contemporary cooking to appeal to any foodies who happen to drop in. The trolley service adds a lovely theatrical touch at lunch time. Overall, we think Brown’s has got it just right this time, and Charlie’s is a welcome addition to the Mayfair food scene.
Charlies’s at Brown’s Hotel, Albemarle St, Mayfair, London W1S 4BP
Telephone 020 7518 4004