Dean Street Townhouse – Soho
I always feel meaningful and eminent when in Dean Street Townhouse. It’s just a fantastic building in a great part of London. You can escape the sex, colour and vulgarity of Soho, the pick ‘n’ mix of beatnik culture, but then again, why would you really want to? Oh yeah, because everyone has to eat and drink at some point.
I took Anouska in an attempt to impress. I thought it would be a subtle introduction to my flamboyant vogue and give an impression of stardom and distinction; after all, it’s become quite the hangout. The latest property in the back pocket of Nick Jones’ Soho House empire (partnered with Richard Caring), Dean Street Townhouse doesn’t quite have the same ‘no status, no entry’ policy of its partner down the road on Greek Street. Clearly, as I’m here and if that’s not proof that they’ll let any old riffraff in then Wagner won’t win The X Factor.
Inside, the Georgian replicated building reflects its eclectic neighbourhood by showcasing “the cream of contemporary British art”, with work from the likes of Paul Noble, Keith Tyson, Peter Blake, Tracey Emin, Mark Titchner, Fiona Banner, Keith Coventry and Mat Collishaw. An offbeat antique atmosphere is reflected in dark wood, and red, leather padded seating, plus monochrome tiles and calming greens that produce a contemporary New Yorky boutique feel, yet the menu spotlights a more retro-British quality. Nothing reflects this more than AA Gill’s “attitude dish” mince and potatoes. But I can’t comment on that as I started with fried duck egg, chicken livers, horn of plenty & devilled sauce (£9.75). A cheeky little introduction with a runny yolk and horn of plenty. It’s okay, I didn’t know what it was either. From the fungi family, craterellus cornucopioides, it’s an edible mushroom, also known as trumpet of death, black chanterelle, black trumpet, or horn of plenty. So there you go. Thank you Wikipedia.
The twice-baked smoked haddock soufflé (£8.75) was creamy and filling and a British twist on a classic French dish by head chef, Stephen Tonkin. Anouska gazed, beholding the spherical soufflé that sat in front of her as the warm runny cream dish was raised and poured over like a savoury Christmas pudding. I picked up my fork and did the courteous thing, I ate half. Then felt sickly.
New potatoes as a side dish are steeply priced at £4.00, but is that really a shock? We’re at Dean Street Townhouse in Soho and I was hardly going to bring my own. Several small pebble-like spuds were heavily buttered in a bowl and helped build up my main of outrageously expensive red-legged partridge with bread sauce (£21.75). The partridge was presented on a large, white plate with its size zero legs on one side and the sleek, plumb (ish) breast on the other. The meat was slightly crispy on the outside and succulently moist and tender inside. Mains are always a struggle as I’d quite happily dig-in to everything on a menu, but both my wallet and my size-32 waist (honestly! for now…) refuse me. The partridge was served with braised lentils and root vegetables, all warming and very British. After I’d finished on the legs (the partridge’s, not Annouska’s), there was some breast for me to devour. Don’t worry, I’m not going to lower myself.
Anouska went gamey too with a warm wood pigeon, black pudding & scotch quails egg salad (£10.00). In all a well-balanced dish with the richness matched in both the pigeon and black pudding, cooled by salad leaves and warmed by small orbs of breaded quail eggs. Those of you who read my enduring, dragging pages will know about my quest for wonderful scotch eggs. These petite versions were dainty and soft and a lively booster in a salad.
Anouska chose the wine and picked two glasses of Pinot Blanc (£8.75), the point genetic mutation of Pinot noir, full-bodied and dry. Easy to knock back if a little languid held against pigeon and black pudding which burst with matcho faculty. Future pairings will see me reach for an elegant Piedmonte Nebbiolo d’Alba or a recent discovery, A & J Gomes, Azamor from Alentejo.
Sticky toffee pudding served with Scotch whisky ice-cream (£6.50) was an absolute winner. Unfortunately, I was too full and therefore unable to finish the dessert, something quite unheard of by me. I have let everyone down. Writing this I can’t help but be reminded of the scene in BBC2′s The Trip when Steve Coogan persuades Rob Brydon to try the sticky toffee pudding, “Mmmhhh, that is wonderful,” says Coogan. Brydon agrees, “Mmmhhh, that’s fantastic!” This sticky toffee pudding was wonderful and the Scotch whisky ice-cream cooling and melting in truly orgasmic fashion and creating involuntary contractions of the muscles of the genitals. Smoothly casing the throat and wrapping up a quiet wonderful evening of British grub.