Char Grilled Squid. Photo thanks to M
40 Dean Street
Tel: 020 7734 1853
Eponymous restaurants are, I suppose not that uncommon but what is uncommon is a lack of ego that usually accompany this choice of nomenclature. So many times I have eaten at a table that has a chef’s name over the door – and the bigger question is why would they when the results are often so poor? Well the answer my friend is in the name or shall we use another word, ego. But can an address have an ego?
Well yesterday I found myself at the ‘eponymous’ 40 Dean Street in London’s Soho with my other half and a good friend of ours Miranda. Now, it is worth taking note at this stage that Miranda will not, I repeat not been seen just any old place. No. Miranda likes to be a member of one of London’s hipper and exclusive private members Clubs, to eat in some of the finer restaurants in town, in fact she lives in the ‘hippest place in Europe’ (according to Italian Vogue) – Dalston in east London. So it was with some trepidation that I had arranged this lunch with a potentially bad outcome due to ego.
I couldn’t quite believe the prices online but they were there in black and white on the chalk-board outside. Two courses for £10.90 Mon – Sat (they are closed on Sundays) M, my other half and I arrived first to quite a large empty restaurant. It stayed pretty much empty for our duration. This was not looking very good at all. Miranda arrived after she had found somewhere to lock up her bike. I told you she’s hip. And then sauntered in and we began to catch up. It had been a while since we were all together. I had ordered a bottle of house red – in for a penny in for a pound, well £16.50 in this case. It was very good, described as ‘full bodied and sapid’. I felt as if I was in a pricing time warp, say somewhere about 1993 would seem about right.
We nibbled our way through some fresh bread and oil with Balsamic lurking at the bottom. All good so far, then we ordered from the choice of 4 starters and 4 mains on the set menu. There is a comprehensive a la carte as well. But really why would you bother? So, along came Baked Mushroom & Taleggio on Crostini, which was eaten before I could have a taste but I could hear a crunch as the knife came down and a small sigh as the fork left the mouth. Char Grilled Squid, Tomato Salsa & Tartar Sauce disappeared in the same way but a bit hipper, and guess who had the squid? These were large portions for a starter. My Smoked Duck Carpaccio, Orange & Rocket had a lot of duck and a kind of marmalade sitting on the duck as well slices of orange and a small salad. It was the type of starter that might have cost more than the two courses if we were in Mayfair and would not have tasted any better.
We chatted, both M and Miranda work in the media so I’m afraid the lurid tales and salacious gossip that passed their lips is completely unprintable. You really wouldn’t believe it looking at them, so sweet.
The Mains were nearly as good as the first round. A Roast Salmon (again a decent portion) with Steamed Brocollis, Prawns, Thyme and White wine was eaten with enthusiasm but I felt it had one ingredient too many – I’d have left out the prawns. A Tagliatelle with Smoked Salmon, Capers & Marscarpone Cheese seemed to go down well with our interloping hipster and my Chicken Milanese served with Spaghetti Arrabiatta was good as two dishes but the arrabiatta was devilishly hot (just the way I like it) but it overpowered the chicken just a touch. At the end of this we had cleaned up six plates of food for less than £33.
The wine was good, the food was on the whole very good and even the coffee and tea afterwards was better than average. The gossip was also good but we provided that. So where’s the catch? I guess that it was empty would put some people off (probably bad for their ego). But now that ‘Miranda’ has been there I’m certain that all the capital’s hipsters will want to go. Book, while you can still get a table (and somewhere to park your bike).