45 Jermyn St. restaurant - London
What’s new? Fortnum & Mason’s 60 year-old Fountain Restaurant, a St James’s institution, reopens as 45 Jermyn St.
Behind the scenes: If you’ve kept up with developments at the Queen’s grocers, you’ll know that our luxury visionary Ewan Venters, CEO of Fortnum & Mason, has had more than a hand in the glamming up of what was the Fountain restaurant. Venters worked wonders in his former post at Selfridges (famously pulling off a major coup in luring Pierre Koffmann out of retirement for a rooftop pop-up). Three years into his run at Fortnum’s, Venters has bolstered the hordes of tea-and-biscuit-buying tourists with savvy local foodies, reminding Londoners why the 308-year-old brand is still one to watch. Chef Lee Stretton has worked at Hix Mayfair, Daphne’s, Le Caprice and The Savoy so knows the crowd here well.
The concept: If I were a guidebook-toting tourist and I stumbled upon 45 Jermyn St., I’d give myself a pat on the back for finding such a beautifully preserved gem this close to Piccadilly Circus. For that’s certainly what it looks like with its pretty pleated table lights, green gloss paintwork, rosewood tables and textured silver glass walls. In fact, it’s all the work of the tireless Martin Brudnizki Design Studio whose knack for creating jaw-dropping brasseries is unmatched (see Sexy Fish, The Ivy and many, many more).
Open from breakfast to late supper, 45 Jermyn St. harks back to a golden age of dining, when waiters wore dickie bows and the maître d’ knew your favourite table, but it isn’t afraid to reach out to today’s bright young things who, if they dare leave east London, will love the grey and gold marble bar dispensing retro sodas, rickies and floats.
What’s cooking: Fortnums isn’t the first place I’d think of for modern urban eats like egg white omelette and steamed kale, raw and pickled vegetable salad and "grilled bones" with parsley salt, but there they all are in amongst the old school mushroom pithivier, game consommé and Dover sole à la meunière. Somewhere in between falls comfort food for a new era, including rich handmade spätzle with Dorset blue lobster and sea aster and garlicky snails with Gorgonzola (rich, even by F&M standards). Pudding takes a turn for the blissful with liquor-laced coupes and boozy ice cream floats.
Signature dishes: Summon the caviar trolley. It’s huge fun to take your pick of three ‒ Iranian Beluga 000, Golden Oscietra or Siberian sturgeon ‒ served with blinis, toast, miniature baked potatoes, scrambled eggs (the scrambling done tableside) and just the right amount of ceremony. You can order as little as 10g at a time, so consider the experience a small indulgence not a major extravagance.
Best for: Spoiling a favourite niece a nephew. They really ought to try their first caviar or grown-up ice cream float here.