What: Claridge’s shiny new flagship restaurant. The space has previously been home to Gordon Ramsay and - most recently - Simon Rogan. The high-ceilinged space also hosted Noma’s London pop-up back in 2012.
Who: Superstar chef Daniel Humm. His Eleven Madison Park (EMP) restaurant in New York was named the best on the world by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2017 and hold three Michelin star. This is a high-stakes opening for the Swiss-born chef, marking both his first restaurant outside the US and also the first opening he will make without his front of house counterpart Will Guidara (the pair split last year). He also worked in the kitchens at Claridge’s a teenager. Humm has bought over some his key people from New York, including EMP’s former general manager Billy Peelle and its former chef de cuisine Dmitri Magi, an alumnus of Noma. Both have been with the group for about 10 years and will be stationed in London permanently, revising the same roles they had at EMP along with head bartender Pietro Collina (former bar director of The NoMad New York).
The vibe: Davies and Brook retains roughly the same configuration as previous occupant Fera save a more prominent bar and remodelled entrance. Brad Cloepl, the American designer behind the jaw-dropping 2017 overhaul of EMP, has designed the dining room. The space is understated and contemporary while referencing Claridge’s classic look with glowing walls, Irish cast crystal colonnades, banquettes shod in velvet and leather in warm silver and terracotta tones and dramatic lighting that ‘accentuates every angle of the room’. To the rear of the space is an equally luxurious-looking kitchen that has a near identical layout to EMP.
The food: The menus is surprisingly flexible given Humm’s status as a culinary heavyweight and Claridge’s unabashed luxury. A £145 seven course tasting menu is offered alongside three and four course a la carte options (£72/£98) and a £38 two-course express lunch that can take as little as an hour. While Nando’s need not panic, Davies and Brook is being positioned as a place that’s not just for special occasions - a big difference to its older Manhattan sibling, which is tasting menu-only. Dishes include carrot salad: sunflower Seeds, horseradish, and pickled quail egg; King crab chawanmushi: black truffle and daikon; poached lobster: winter squash, bisque, saffron; roasted poussin: stuffed with parmesan, lemon and fennel; and triple cream: brioche bun with sorrel and plum.
To drink: The 140-page wine list is far from run-of-the-mill with an unusually large selection of wines by the glass - including no less that four chardonnays priced between £14 and £45 - an even bigger ensemble of 500ml carafes and a sommelier’s spotlight section. In total the wine list has around 1800 bins with prices starting at a ‘not outrageous given the postcode’ £9 a glass/£19 a carafe/£35 a bottle. That said, those looking to go big won’t be short of options at Davies and Brook.
And another thing: Restaurant hears that once the Davies and Brook has bedded in a bit the team will start to bring in elements of Eleven Madison Park’s research driven approach to service. The New York restaurant famously swots up on its guests prior to them coming in and also listens in on conversations to deliver little extras and tweaks to make meals more memorable.