What: The latest roll of the restaurant dice for Brown’s Hotel. After a decade-long partnership with Mark Hix the Mayfair venue put in German-born Italian chef Heinz Beck, but it’s fair to say the restaurant failed to capture Londoners’ hearts (it closed after less than a year). Charlie’s aims to celebrate British culinary heritage and looks to be a much better fit for the famed Albemarle Street hotel, which has a moneyed and traditionally-minded clientele.
Who: Charlie’s is being headed up by Adam Byatt, the man behind Clapham restaurants Trinity and Bistro Union. As chef director, he has created a menu alongside head chef Matt Starling, who has previous hotel restaurant experience having worked at Fera at Claridge’s, and Owain Atkinson, previously of The Kitchin and Chez Bruce. Byatt himself is no stranger to hotel dining either, having worked at Claridge’s when starting out as a chef (his grandfather was also a bell boy at Brown’s).
The food: Byatt seems a better fit for the Mayfair hotel having proven his skill in blending classic cooking techniques with flair, an approach that finally won Trinity a Michelin star in 2016. The menu is suitably heavyweight both in number of dishes and price, kicking off with items to share, such as 0scietra caviar, warm muffins and crème fraiche (£42) with the following list of small plates including terrine of chicken, duck liver and ceps with toasted brioche; beef tartare; and seared tuna with apple, cucumber, avocado and ponzu.
Mains are split into fish, meat and vegetarian and run to a dozen in total, and is a list of big hitters aimed squarely at the Mayfair crowd with whole dover sole; T-bone to share; Iberico pluma; and loin of English rose veal all featuring.
Desserts, by contrast, are surprisingly inexpensive given all that’s gone before them, with dishes such as crème caramel with raisins soaked in sauternes; and salted caramel custard tart all £8. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a selection of six ice creams and sorbets to choose from, all at £7.50.
The vibe: The team and the menu may have faced a complete overhaul, but the restaurant’s interior has barely been touched. The wood-panelled room retains its striking botanically-themed wall paper – a nod to author Rudyard Kipling, who penned his seminal novel The Jungle Book at Brown's. It’s a space that exudes both elegance and grandeur and therefore chimes nicely with Byatt’s ritzy menu.
And another thing: Charlie’s is named after hospitality magnate Lord Charles Forte, but Charlie’s at Brown’s also has a lovely cartoonish ring to it. Either way, Byatt looks to be revelling in his return to a swanky postcode with high-end ingredients that might not fly so well with the Clapham crowd. He has the skill to let them shine, meaning Mayfair is in for a treat. Just don’t expect to pay Peanuts.
Albemarle St, Mayfair, London W1S 4BP