What: A relaunch of Richoux, the café and restaurant institution that has operated in London for more than 100 years. Richoux was founded in London as a patisserie and confectioner in 1909 by two French émigrés. Its original Edwardian shop was located in Baker Street and after World War II reopened as the Richoux Tea Room near Portman Square. Steadily, the Richoux brand grew and became a destination for friends’ afternoon teas or to hold business meetings in quiet surroundings, but in the years leading up to the Covid pandemic the group’s estate had been significantly reduced. Having gone through various phases of ownership, Richoux was eventually acquired by casual dining operator Dining Street Limited in 2019. Then at the start of last year, Dining Street went into administration, leading to the permanent closure of Richoux’s remaining restaurants. The brand and intellectual property were subsequently sold to Naveen Handa, a family member of the hotel business Cairn Group.
Who: Richoux’s reopening on Piccadilly is being led by chefs Jamie Butler and Lewis Spencer – the ‘new custodians of the brand’. The pair met while working at Moor Hall in Lancashire (currently ranked number one on the Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards top 100 list), and between them have worked at restaurants including Simon Rogan’s Cartmel restaurant L’Enclume, which was recently promoted to three-star status in the Michelin Guide; Eleven Madison Park, Daniel Humm’s three Michelin-starred New York institution; and Raymond Blanc’s two Michelin-starred Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxford.
The food: Currently open for lunch and dinner, Butler and Spencer have created an all-day menu that aims to ‘pay homage to the grand brasseries of Paris’ with dishes including French onion soup (pictured above); Welsh rarebit; and croque monsieur, alongside plates of warm Mediterranean prawns with olive oil and lemon; and raw tuna and watermelon. Larger plates include salmon a la plancha with wild rice, artichokes, lemon and pickled cucumber; grilled chicken paillard in a citrus gremolata, served with rocket and toasted almonds; and crispy duck salad with hoisin dressing, candied cashew, spring onion and gem lettuce. Given the area, prices are approachable across the menu, with the most expensive dish – ribeye steak frites – coming in at less than £20. A range of patisserie items are available from the counter at the front and include cruffins in flavours such as passion fruit and banana crème; sea salt; caramelised white chocolate custard; and vanilla bean and raspberry. Additionally, there is tarte tatins and cakes on offer, which can also be ordered in the restaurant for dessert.
The vibe: Richoux’s distinguished red exterior has been replaced with a navy blue one, but beyond that much of the look of Richoux Piccadilly remains recognisable to those who frequented it in its previous incarnation. The main dining room, designed by Lucy Potter of Fox and Church, features scalloped pearl floor tiles, restored original alcoves, mottled mirrored walls and art deco wall lights. To the rear is a bar with polished golden fixtures that are intended as being ‘reminiscent of old school Parisian cafés’.
And another thing: Given Piccadilly’s daytime footfall – and the brand’s heritage - it’s surprising to see Richoux reopen without a breakfast or afternoon tea offering. This is set to be addressed in the coming months, though, with Butler and Spencer currently working on menus for both.
172 Piccadilly, St. James's, London W1J 9EJ