This is on the site of what used to be the Middlesex Hospital. I was particularly interested to try it for personal reasons. My wife, a doctor, worked at the hospital for a time and we used to come to a wine club here, so I was curious to see what they had done with the old place. The hospital closed in 2006 after a long history. It was originally opened in 1745 and had been on these premised since 1757, founded by twenty benefactors include Percy, Earl of Northumberland (hence the rather obscure restaurant name). It originally had just fifteen beds, but grew over the decades and in 1948 became an NHS teaching hospital. The hospital site has been largely been redeveloped into flats, but the 19th century multi-faith chapel was a listed building and has been restored and preserved. It is visible from a window of the dining room but was not yet open to the public when we visited.
The restaurant opened in April 2015, located roughly where the hospital shop once stood, with executive chef Diego Cardosa in charge of the all-day kitchen. Mr Cardosa was head chef at Murano from 2008, having previously worked at Savoy Grill and the two Michelin star au Triannon in Versailles. Percy & Founders is in the same ownership as Thomas Cubitt and Pantechnicon. The dining room is large, seating 200, with an open kitchen at one end. It is a casual affair, open all day, with a few David Hockney prints adorning the walls.
The menu had starters price from £7.50 to £12.50, main courses £16 to £21.50, side dishes at £4 and desserts £7.50. The wine list had just over 150 labels, ranging in price from £20 to £280 with a median price of £62, and a distinctly below the norm average mark-up level of 2.4 times retail price. Normally in central London wines are marked up three times their retail price, and can often be higher than this, so all credit to the owners for a more moderate pricing level. Example bottles included Riesling QbA Schloss Lieserat 2012 at £29 for a wine that you can find in the high street for £11, Monthélie Domaine Pierre Morey 2007 at £65 compared to a retail price of £29, and Savennières-Clos de la Coulée de Serrant Nicolas Joly 2011 at £110 for a wine that will set you back £74 in a shop.
Sourdough bread was from a Brixton baker called Bread Bread; this was pleasant, with a nice crust (13/20); they also use The Bread Factory. Tuna tartare came with spring onion, lime and avocado, and was a simple and refreshing dish, the amount of lime well-judged (13/20). Asparagus with quail egg, leaves and Hollandaise was also pleasant, the sauce nicely balanced though the asparagus were of merely reasonable quality. Perhaps I should spend less time eating at Hedone, where I had superb asparagus a few days ago (13/20 here).
For the main course chicken was carefully cooked, the bird’s breast and leg complemented by a little chicken pie and a mushroom “ketchup”. The pie, being very small, was mostly pastry and could probably have ben omitted (12/20). Lobster and prawn Scotch egg was an interesting idea, served with crisp baby gem lettuce on the side and a little seafood sauce. The egg was cooked well and the seafood made a change from the usual pork filling of the egg. It won’t be replacing the classic version any time soon but was pleasant (12/20). Jersey Royals on the side were seasonal and accurately timed (14/20).
For dessert, lemon and yoghurt with almond crumble and Prosecco sorbet was refreshing (13/20), and Madeleines with maple syrup butter were nicely made and had good texture (13/20). Being described on the menu as “Percy’s mistresses” (presumably Lord Percy had a mistress of that name) seems unnecessarily obscure though presumably gives the waiting staff a chance to engage with the customers.
Service was very good indeed, led by a friendly manager who had previously worked at Goodman. The bill came to £89 a head, including a bottle of the excellent Vina Tondonia at £74. If you shared a more modest bottle of wine then a realistic cost per person would be around £70. Overall I quite liked Percy & Founders, with its relaxed atmosphere, good wine list and capable cooking. The main issue would be debatable value for money on the food, which is quite pricy for the level it is aiming at. However, even with its obscure location (the new address does not yet appear on some mapping software) it was busy on this Tuesday night a few weeks after opening.