The scale of Zedel is impressive, the vast main basement dining room decked out in art-déco style, with two further bars alongside and a smaller café at ground level. Once part of the Regent Palace hotel, I remember eating in this space when it was Oliver Peyton’s “The Atlantic”, one of the most fashionable London destinations in its day. Times change and, when The Atlantic folded, the premises lay abandoned for years, as no-one wanted to take on such a huge space. Uber-restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King know a thing or two about running a restaurant though, and in 2012 transformed the cavernous space into a vast 240 seat French brasserie that was packed out even on the mid-week evening of my latest visit.
One key to filling such a monster room is keen pricing. The menu, as ever from this stable of restaurants, is very appealing, presented on a large single card. There are specials of each day, a wide range of starters, a few more luxurious dishes and plenty of classic main course options. With for example a terrine of pork at £7.50, cassoulet £15.50 and lemon tart £4.50, it is possible to eat very cheaply here, though certainly there are some pricier options.
The wine list fits on the menu card, though only with the expediency of omitting the growers from the more basic labels. Hence you see borderline useless descriptions like “Sancerre 2016” and “Gigondas 2013”. The better wines at least are identified properly. The bottles ranged in price from £22 to £175, with for example Domaine Laroche Chablis 2015 at £57 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £19, Domaine Duclaux Cote Rotie La Germine 2015 at £75 compared to its retail price of £42, and Chateau Haut Bergey Pessac-Leognan 2000 at £96 for a bottle that will set you back £54 in a shop.
The pork terrine came with kitchen-made piccalilli and a slice of toast. The terrine was a bit on the diminutive side in terms of portion size but was hearty and delivered good flavour. The sharpness of the very good piccalilli gave the dish some balance (12/20). Better was crayfish and king prawn cocktail (£13.75), this dish much more generous in size, having tender shellfish and nicely made Marie Rose sauce (13/20).
My duck cassoulet had a lot more haricot beans than meat but was nonetheless very enjoyable, avoiding the over-fattiness that can sometimes overwhelm this earthy dish (13/20). Halibut (£25.75) had good flavour but was cooked just a little too long, whereas the beans with it were a touch undercooked; at least the béarnaise sauce was just right (12/20). On the side, mash potatoes were fine.
The pastry section was the star when I came here last, and so it was tonight. Coffee financier (£5.75) came with coffee ice cream, and was genuinely good. The coffee flavour came through well, and the texture of the cake, which was made with brown butter, was excellent. The ice cream with it had unusually deep coffee flavour (easily 14/20). Lemon tart (£4.50) was a slice of precisely balanced enjoyment, the acidity of the lemon carefully balanced by sugar, the pastry base pleasingly crumbly and the texture of the filling smooth (15/20).
Service was effective despite the vast scale of the place and the high noise levels, with one error on the order that was quickly rectified. The bill came to £106 a head, but that was due to indulging in one of the serious wines. If you shared a modest bottle then a typical cost per head for three courses and coffee might come to around £55. This seems to me not excessive given the grand setting and the appealing menu.
Further reviews: 28th Jun 2012