Category: Bistro (££)
It took me a long time to finally make it to The Delaunay. Despite the glowing reviews I was a bit reluctant to try it, as I was suspicious of its label as ’Grand European café”. Having lived in Vienna for 5 years, I think I know everything about Central/Middle Grand European cafés and I couldn’t deal with a fake version. How wrong I was! The Delaunay indeed has the elegant flair of a traditional Viennese coffee house, just less faded and with friendlier staff (Viennese waiters are infamous for their grumpiness). The Delaunay has managed to recreate the effortless grandeur of Viennese in fin de siècle places, and you find the white table clothes, the brass, the marble, the mirrors, the high ceilings and the waiters in suit.
The extensive menu is oriented around Central European cuisine, with Wiener Schnitzel, a selection of Wiener sausages, Goulash and Borscht. In addition, you find a choice of French inspired dishes such as Croque Monsieur and Moules frites and British cuisine is also present (Sunday Roast, Kedgeree). From an Austrian perspective, it was fun to read the dessert section: I was intrigued to find Scheiterhaufen, an Austrian bread and apple pudding, which is a poor man’s dish that I always hated (I have not tried the Delaunay version which may be super lovely… maybe?). There was another of my ‘favourites’ on the menu, Salzburger Souffle (or Salzburger Nockerln as this dessert is called in Austria), an Austrian speciality that is made predominantly of egg white and sugar and doesn’t do anything for me either. I could easily think of 10 Austrian desserts that would be appreciated outside of Austria, I’m just not too sure about these two…
The service at The Delaunay was brilliant. Our table wasn’t quite ready when I arrived and I was brought a chair from god knows where to sit down (I was about 8 months pregnant when I visited) without me having to ask for it and without having to do the pregnant woman routine (opening the coat, sticking belly out and periodically sighing with the hope that someone takes a pity). We swiftly got extra gravy with the meat and more custard with the dessert without any reluctance and we were also provided with beautiful doggy bags to take the remains of our massive Sunday lunch home. We were annoying customers (or Uyen was but were very well taken care of.
The Sunday Roast (18.75) was just enormous and half would have been still fine to be honest. It was very good though; the meat was medium rare, tender and beautifully seasoned, my only complaint was that the beef slices could have been a lot thinner. Yorkshire pudding, the attraction of which is very difficult to understand for a foreigner, was nicer than usual. It was crispy and it actually had a bit of flavour to it too. There was far too little gravy for this enormous plate, but we got more when we asked.
We tried a non-Austrian dessert, the Blackberry and Apple Crumble (7). I loved the tangy blackberries, the sweet apple and the crunchy crumble on top. The custard was creamy and made of real vanilla pods , just the way I like it. Like the gravy before, the custard was not enough! We ordered more and when the waiter brought an enormous pot to our table, I was not sure whether the kitchen was now making fun of us, serving us a litre of custard? We glanced uncomfortable at each other… We were well glad that it was just the tea that we had also ordered…
The Delaunay is part of the Wolseley, Cafe Zedel and Colbert family owned by Jeremy King and Chris Corbin, and I admire the team’s committment to quality and top class service. The concept is unique for London and provides a pleasant contrast to the informal sharing and non-booking places that are so en vogue at the moment. For me, The Delaunay is a real treat, and I will certainly be back for more. Maybe I will even try the Scheiterhaufen…?
- Food: 7.5/10
- Ambiance: 9/10
- Service: 9/10
- Value for Money: 7/10
- Chances of Returning: 100%
- Verdict: Old fashioned and elegant, The Delaunay is like a little holiday from the frantic world outside and we all need this once in a while, don’t we?