The long-awaited sister restaurant of The Wolseley is now open and is already gaining a following of London foodies.
Delaunay is a sprawling venue that very much feels a part of The Wolseley while avoiding being just a carbon copy of the original iconic restaurant. There’s a distinct feeling of understated 1920s glamour to the venue, that's clearly apparent from the moment you step on to the immaculately polished floor. The 150-cover restaurant is filled with effortlessly comfortable and stylish tables, chairs and banquettes that sit comfortably within a colour scheme of creams, greens, wood and brass. It’s very shiny, it’s very new and, at the moment, it has that slight unlived-in feeling that’s sure to soften over time. As well as the main restaurant they also have an area for quick and easy light bites, complete with its own separate entrance. This is likely to appeal to the in ‘n’ out lunchtime crowd with just a few spare moments out of their busy day to get fed. In time, they are also promising a delivery service to the nearby area.
Delaunay has yet to find its niche but it follows a similar theme of being an ‘all day café’ with a more easygoing appeal than some of London’s other fancy-pants dining spots. That said, the price point of the main restaurant and its location in Aldwych means that the suited and booted local office workers have already adopted it as a place for business lunches and schmoozing. Luckily, the staff are as friendly as they are super-efficient, so any purveying feeling of stuffiness is refreshingly absent.
If you’ve been to The Wolseley then you’ll know the care and attention that they pay to the menu. This is replicated at Delaunay. The menu’s scope is huge, covering different price points from under a tenner for a brunch dish (weekends only) to £43 for lobster at dinner. Then there’s breakfast and afternoon tea – no stone is left unturned.
The all day a la carte is not exactly all day – it starts after breakfast and finishes at 11.30pm. There’s a very inclusive European feel to the dishes, which includes everything from German sausages to croque monsieur, although bizarrely you can order a curry on a Monday.
It’s nice that you can enjoy typical breakfast/brunch dishes right into dinner with their selection of eggs. Their eggs Benedict enjoyed as a main course (£13.50) is, frankly, divine. Simply presented without flounce, the eggs are cooked perfectly so that a mere touch with a fork spills the rich yolk over the plate. Creamy without being overly heavy, the muffin holds it all together well while the saltiness of the pancetta and the richness of the hollandaise fills the mouth for a velvety aftertaste that lingers pleasantly.
Alternatively, if you’re feeling more peckish, the steak is surprisingly cheap at £18.50. The sirloin is again simple with a focus on bold flavours. Cooked to specification as you’d expect, the medium-rare is wonderfully pink, spilling juices over the plate as you cut into it, all of which mixes with the rich, almost heavy butter. Even the fries are delightful – crisp, fluffy, delicious. If you have the room afterwards then the desserts look amazing. Think banana split or a Kinder (that’s raspberry, vanilla and chocolate ice creams, whipped cream, marshmallows, meringue and chocolate sauce).
Unlike some London restaurants, Delaunay doesn’t have page upon page of prohibitively expensive bottles of wine. Instead it’s a surprisingly concise selection of mainly old world bottles starting at just £19.50, rising quickly to £215 for a pricier reserve bottle. The biggest plus of the wine list is the fact that almost every bottle they have is available by the glass so you can dip in and out of a range of different bottles. They round off the choice with a handful of cocktails, priced at £7.25-£9.25 and covering classics and signature drinks.
The Last Word
Delaunay gets the balance right. Sophisticated without being pompous, it’s the ‘affordable’ option for doing quality in the capital.