Fischer’s

Where The Wolseley and Delaunay (part of the Corbin and King mini-empire) are effortlessly grand and ooze class, this was all a bit Disneyland. It was too shiny, too constructed, as if it had borrowed it’s facade from a plastic surgeon’s table. Harley Steet is only a short walk away, after all. Think Grand Budapest Hotel. The sort of place you find potty old women who look like Joan Rivers (god rest her) feeding their handbagged poodles with strudels from the sterling cutlery. The artwork is like something a rich foreign uncle you never knew you had, leaves you in his will, but you feel too guilty to ditch. The menu is strongly Germanic- Käsespätzle, Esterhazy Schnitten, Passion Fruit Gugelhupf- dishes that will cover anybody sitting around you in phlegm as you try to pronounce. They wouldn’t be out of place coming out of one of Professor Slughorn’s classes. But this being Marleybone, where the majority of the clientele grew up during the war, these dishes are no doubt old world classics, which slip off their tongue and please those fading palettes.

Himmel und Erde (£7.25) is black pudding and apple, a safe combination, but one that is sure to please. It could have done with a kick of spicing, but then that would give too much of a jolt. This is food that plays second fiddle to atmosphere and chat. You come here not to marvel over it, but to have something familiar and comforting. After discreetly getting our iPhones out to Google Käsespätzle (Austrian Mac & Cheese), we ordered it, and with the added bacon (£7.25) it was a wholesome heart clogger. A dish that sticks both fingers up to any diet. It had been given a flash under the grill to crisp the top, and the cheese was gooey and strong. All these trendy diners that serve gloopy crap, should take note.

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Grilled spatchcock chicken (£16.50) was lathered in the herb dressing and far too greasy and the skin wasn’t crisp. Almost like chewing on one of the old biddy’s soon to be lifted jowls. The Wiener Schnitzel (£21.75)- the classic dish across the Corbin & King group- needs the the anchovy, capers and egg to stop it from being in Bernard Matthews land. But will hit the spot every time.

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For dessert, the Apple and Cinnamon strudel (£7.75) had a good flaky pastry and a strong hit of spicing. A sundae with pistachio, hazelnut and almond ice creams with butterscotch sauce is worthy an anaphylaxis fit.

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It was a pleasant enough meal, but far from exciting. A posh Cafe Rogue. But when you are in your fifties and visiting places like La Fromargerie is a real thing, then pleasant is exactly what you’re looking for. Your taste-buds are dead by then, your sight is fading, and all you want is some good crockery and a place to read the paper. Fischer’s couldn’t suit the area more. I would go back, but in forty years time.

6/10 (£££)

50 Marylebone High St, London W1U 5HN

Fischer's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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The Delaunay

Friends were down from Newcastle for the weekend and given that up North a fish and chip shop is the closest thing to fine dining, I’d promised to take them somewhere special. There’s few places better in London for this than The Delaunay. As the younger sister of The Wolseley it is of course a classy establishment, but it’s also a lot more laid back. The Wolseley a little bit too much ‘we are next door to the Ritz’, whereas here, situated right in the heart of theatre-land in Aldwych, you feel just as welcome to come in for a coffee and read of the paper, as you do to get dressed up for an evening meal.

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From the doorman in tops and tails to the grand dining room, everything here  is luxurious. A few weeks ago I dined at Bob Bob Ricard which also has a train carriage feel, but the difference between the two is like that between the London tube and the Orient Express. The Delaunay really does trump it in every way. It’s the small touches that enhance the experience here; you just have to feel the weight of the pepper grinder to know that the type of place you’re dining in. Given these surroundings, the menu is reasonably priced with most mains coming under the £20 mark. It’s an eclectic menu with a strong Germanic nod. Plenty of wieners and schnitzels. Even a wiener schnitzel!

To start I had the Roast Squash Salad with Quail Eggs, Pecorino and Chestnuts (£8.50). Everything worked here with lots of textures and flavours that came together with a light mustardy dressing.

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My partner had the Steak Tartare (£10.95), which comes with a bright orange raw egg yolk on top of the finely diced steak. With a slice of good sourdough toast this was as good as this dish can get.

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For main I had the Braised Shoulder of Lamb,White Beans and Paprika Sausage (£19.75), which came as a stew. It didn’t look like the biggest portion but it was so rich that it soon filled me. The meat was tender and with the uniformly sized diced carrots this was a fine stew , but I’d have liked more of a paprika hit. It was just lacking a little bit more depth. Also given the thinness of the sauce, it needed some rice to soak it up. Putting this all onto a plate made for awkward eating.

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My partner had the Fillet of Beef Stroganoff (£21.75). She had this last time and loved it, and it was the same again. It’s a really rich sauce with a strong hit of mushroom. They could have been more generous with the rice though, as the clump on the side wasn’t enough to soak up all the sauce.

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My friend had the Rib-eye steak with fries and béarnaise sauce (£27.50). It was a decent steak, but some distance of the heights of Hawksmoor. There’s a lot of other things on the menu that I’d recommend before going for this, as you can have a decent steak in most restaurants.

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Instead I’d go for one of the schnitzels, which are a real speciality here. My friend had the Holstein schnitzel (£22.75), topped with a fried egg and anchovies. I’ve got no idea where else you can get this in London, certainly not better than they do it here. You might think this is expensive for something Bernard Matthews could give you for about one tenth of the price, but you’ve just got to try it to see how far veal, rolled in breadcrumbs and lightly fried, can go. It really is top notch.

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For pudding I shared the Kinder Sundae- raspberry, vanilla and chocolate ice creams, whipped cream, marshmallows, meringue and chocolate sauce (£8.95). There wasn’t as much texture as I would have liked, and the crunch of the meringues was lost on me, but that didn’t stop me from scraping it clean.

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We also had the Apple & Walnut Strudel with vanilla ice cream (£7.95). I was hoping for a Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds style crunch from the pastry, but instead it was a bit flaky and soft. It was a bit heavy handed on the cinnamon, so that the other flavours on the plate were overpowered.

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We also shared the Lingonberry and Pear Crumble with custard (£7.50), which was far too heavy on the crumble making it a stodgy pudding, so much so that we couldn’t even finish it. I’d never had lingonberry before, and I was hoping for some strong berry flavour, but all that came through here was the mass of crumble.

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The bill came to £60 per head with a couple of glasses of wine each. Not too bad given just how impressive the restaurant is. The £2 cover charge on top of 12.5% service seems unnecessary. I’ve got no idea what it’s for. And I’d say that the service was perhaps the only slight let down. The waitress seemed to be experimenting to see how high she could pour the water from without spilling it all over the table. She obviously hadn’t been practising for very long. And on top of that it was a bit neglectful. But apart from this it was again a fantastic meal, one that will remain top of my list when a special occasion comes along.

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Atmosphere: 9/10

Value: 8/10

Overall: 8.5/10

55 Aldwych, London WC2B 4BB

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Afternoon Tea at The Wolseley

Afternoon tea; one of the great British traditions. Alongside a Yorkshire stuffed with roasties and topped up with gravy, and a chip butty with plenty of butter, a scone caked with strawberry jam and mounds of clotted cream is a true British treasure. It is more than just a treat. It is a strange and unique part of being British.

It is also the single most pointless and unusual meal I can think of. It’s the reason why so many women in their mid-forties just can’t understand where that extra weight around their hips is coming from. It was the reason for corsets, and now it is what keeps WeightWatchers afloat. It’s a non-meal, something that cleverly exists between lunch and dinner- because lets not kid ourselves in thinking we’d skip a meal either side of it. That’s why so many women so easily forget about it, and then when reminded will defend it as ‘well it was only a cup of tea,’ forgetting the 3000 calories  served on the side. But afternoon tea is also without a doubt the best non-meal. Nobody really needs it, but judging by almost every tea room in London on any afternoon of the week there’s no chance of this tradition dying anytime soon.

Stepping through the grand double doors on the Piccadilly into The Wolseley is like stepping back into a more regal England. Here things are done the proper British way. People discuss serious matters like Fortnum & Mason hampers. This isn’t Chelsea mum’s gossiping over a fro-yo, this is British aristocracy coming down from their room at The Ritz to order Darjeeling Tea because they still feel they are the rightful landowners of it. But it isn’t stuffy here. And despite the luxurious surroundings it is relatively relaxed. Everything was perfectly calm and civilised despite the dining room being packed, and apart from Janet Stree-Porter’s gob (she was on the table next to us) the dining room has a pleasant buzz. Another reason to try The Wolseley is how reasonable the price is. At £23.75 a head it is far cheaper than the equivalent at hotels- Claridges is £45 and The Dorchester £41.

What can be said about the food? Afternoon tea is never really about the food. The finger sandwiches- egg mayonnaise,  cucumber on sundried tomato bread, chicken and celery and smoked salmon- were all great. The cakes- a bright pink and yellow battenberg; a pistachio macaroon; a strawberry tart; a slice of cheesecake; and a chocolate cake with gold leaf- were again perfect. But as ever what steals the show was the scones. That extra bit of stodge you need to force everything else down. The clotted cream laughing in the face of all it’s low fat and skimmed equivalents. It’s at this point of the meal that I forget my plush surroundings and used the back of the spoon like a builder’s tool to cement the two halves of the scone together with the clotted cream, and then as if dunking chips into ketchup, I dipped the scone into the jam and pushed it up into my mouth. An offence I’d probably have been arrested for if I’d been caught. After forcing down the fourth scone (my girlfriend to my delight left me both of hers) I slouched back in my chair and glanced at my watch. Dinner in 2 hours. Perfect.

So I say be British and let yourself forget about those 3000 calories and go to The Wolseley and savour this fantastic and completely unnecessary tradition.

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