Cafe Royal Ten Room Brasserie

Cafe Royal, 68 Regent Street, London, W1B 4DY, United Kingdom

Back to search results

The Café Royal was established in 1865 on the east side of Regent Street by a French wine merchant called Daniel Thevenon. It was an icon of polite society, with regular guests including Noel Coward and Virginia Woolf. After a time as the National Sporting Club it became a series of private dining rooms from the 1970s. Finally the premises have been transformed into a luxury hotel. The dining areas will open in stages; first is the Ten Brasserie room, the most casual of the outlets, which opened in mid December 2012. In 2013 the beautiful Grill Room will become a champagne bar, the Domino Room the flagship restaurant and the Pompadour room a function room. Andrew Turner is the executive chef at Café Royal, seen most recently running the kitchen at Wiltons.

Although most of the lovely rooms have retained their original features, this could not be said of the Ten Room, which despite its original features in places has been redeveloped as a modern room decked out in garish red: red banquettes and upholstery, tomato soup coloured carpet and a peculiar fence of grey marble posts. My dining companion likened it to a Wimpy bar, which I am guessing was not the impression that the architect was shooting for.  The menu was appealing brasserie fare, with dishes such as Dover sole meuniere and Veal Holstein. The wine list was very much a work in progress, with just a short card available on the night of my visist, but apparently a 350 bin list will appear in January. Bread was made from scratch in the kitchen: a baguette was good, though a wholemeal roll lacked flavour (and perhaps a little salt).

Lobster and prawn salad had fairly tender seafood, though the Granny Smith apple salad lacked dressing (13/20). Butternut squash soup (£7) had reasonable flavour but was quite salty (12/20). Much better was a starter of barbecued quail (£12), served off the bone, with pomegranate seeds, orange slices and fennel. The orange and pomegranate were a sensible pairing for the quail, and the bird itself was lovely, carefully cooked and with excellent flavour (15/20). Veal Holstein (priced here at £27) is a gloriously old-fashioned dish, a veal cutlet breaded and fried, and topped with a fried egg, served with capers, anchovy and soy beurre noisette on the side. This was nicely cooked and with veal that had plenty of flavour (14/20). A cauliflower salad was also pleasant (13/20).

For dessert, custard tart (£6) was well made, a little light on vanilla flavour for me with with good pastry and texture, served with nice vanilla ice cream (14/20). Also enjoyable was a coconut sorbet and tuile (14/20). The restaurant has recruited experienced pastry chef Simon Jenkins, who has worked at some top kitchens such as Gordon Ramsayl’Ortolan and Coworth Park; I imagine that he will be able to produce even better and more elaborate desserts in the flagship dining room when it opens. Coffee was Nespresso, and had good flavour.

Service was as much a work in progress as the rest of the place. When we arrived there was no-one at the welcome desk, despite just three tables being taken all evening, and ample staff. A grubby knife was presented for one course, and despite the formal service little attempt was made to top drinks up; to be fair, the staff were perfectly friendly and remembered who had ordered what, but this was not the slick service operation that somewhere at this price point might expect to lay on. The bill came to £75 a head with a quite modest wine between two. This seemed altogether too high a price for what was clearly a place beginning to find its feet. Given this, why not have a half-price soft opening, where any teething troubles are more easily forgiven? Hopefully this is just a partly formed preview of what in time will be a grand dining venue. Only time will tell: the Domino room is apparently scheduled to open in March, but doubtless the exact date will be subject to the vagaries of builders like any restaurant opening. Perhaps they can use the time to rethink the décor of the Ten Brasserie.

Add a comment


User comments