Tredwell’s is run by Marcus Wareing, who already has one more casual eatery in the form of The Gilbert Scott to complement his main restaurant. This Covent Garden establishment, which opened in September 2014, is named after the suave butler in Agatha Christie’s 1929 play “The Seven Dials Mystery”. The play’s name refers to a secret society of that name that meets in a club located at the Seven Dials junction of Covent Garden, which is near here. Incidentally, the butler character Tredwell actually appeared earlier in Ms Christie’s first play “Black Coffee” too.
The menu is more modern than the 1920s era name might suggest, with dishes like harissa-glazed aubergine and chipotle chicken wings, but there are more familiar dishes such as shrimp cocktail and mushrooms on toast amongst the more exotic offerings. Head chef Andrew Ward was previously senior sous chef at Chez Bruce, and held the same position at Rhodes 24 and La Trompette after working for four years at The Glasshouse.
The restaurant is spread over three floors, with a tiled floor, black tables with no tablecloths, and a rather striking art deco style clock on one wall. In total 184 diners can be seated at any one time. Lighting was very subdued, hence the murky photos. Music played in the background, from The Rolling Stones to the Cardigans, but was not too intrusive – the noise level peaked at 75 decibels, which is above the level of normal conversation but not excessively loud.
The wine list had just fewer than 50 choices, ranging in price from £24 to £99, with a median price of £48 and an average mark-up of three times the retail price. Example labels were Mas de Daumas Gassac Moulin de Gassac ‘Guilhem’ Pays de l’Hérault 2013 at £24 for a wine that you can find in the high street for £7, Mullineux ‘Kloof Street’ Rouge 2012 at £48 for a wine with a shop price of £12, and Barbaresco Roccalini Cascina Roccalini 2010 at £71 compared to a retail price of £23.
The menu had numerous sections (“bowls”, “bread and buns”, “grills and smokes” etc) and required a certain amount of concentration to read through. Naturally enough these days the portions were “for sharing”, a format that allows restaurateurs to have a menu that looks modestly priced at first glance but results in a rapidly escalating bill in practice.
Crab and mango on toast (£9) was simple but good, the toast made with decent bread, the crab fresh and the mango providing some balance to the crab (13/20). Crayfish salad (£5) was less successful, the shellfish tender enough but the overall effect rather too dry (12/20). Charred kale (£5) was distinctly undercooked, the quinoa on the other hand a touch soft, and the ginger was too tentative to rescue the balance of the dish (11/20).
I preferred a shrimp cocktail (£6), the Marie Rose sauce (tomatoes, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce pepper and lemon juice) nicely made and with a pleasing hint of spice, the prawns tender (13/20). Harissa-glazed aubergine with coriander, peanuts and chill was also good, the heat of the spices lifting the dish nicely (14/20). Another enjoyable dish was sticky Goosnargh chicken thigh (£5), the bird glazed with a slightly sweet soy and chilli sauce. The chicken was carefully cooked and the chilli bite cut nicely through the sweetness of the glaze (14/20). On the side, baked beans served in a little tin were good, the haricot beans tender (13/20), and matchstick fries were fine (13/20).
For dessert, muscavado sponge with coffee and walnut had a strong punch of coffee flavour, the sponge moist and the walnuts adding a pleasing textural contras (14/20). Pain perdu with bacon was less successful, the bread soaked in eggs and then fried but lacking enough richness, though bacon was an interesting way to enliven it, served with maple cream on the side (12/20). Coffee was very good, a proprietary blend that is apparently the same one served at the main Marcus restaurant.
Service was not quite as suave as Agatha Christie’s butler Tredwell, but was pretty slick nonetheless, with attentive and helpful staff. The bill with one of the better wines came to £74 a head. If you shared a more modest bottle then a typical bill might be around £60 per person. This is hardly cheap for what is notionally a casual dining experience. I quite enjoyed Tredwell’s, with its best dishes very good indeed, but there were a few rough edges that should not really happen at this price point. Achieving consistency should not be a mystery to such an experienced team.