What’s New? Bronte (named after Nelson, the first Duke of Bronte), a shiny new all-day bar and restaurant designed by Tom Dixon, joins the pigeons, lions and backpackers of Trafalgar Square just in time for tourist season.
Behind The Scenes? Bronte is brought to us by Trevor and Adam Davies, the father-and-son duo behind Circus, one of London’s classier cocktails ‘n’ cabaret joints. The executive head chef is Andrew Lassetter, a talented chef who has made a career out of feeding the rich and the skinny, first at the Hempel, later at Eight Over Eight, Cocoon, and the late Joseph Ettedgui’s Il Vaporetto. Jonathan Villar (ex-Providores) is head chef.
The Concept? It’s the colonnaded terrace populated with Tom Dixon Fan chairs that first catches the eye – somewhere this pretty this close to Trafalgar Square? – drawing one into the latest restaurant project (after Sea Containers and Craft) of British designer Tom Dixon and his Design Research Studio. The large 231-cover space is split into five areas: bar, café, conservatory, mezzanine and a glamorous sunken dining room in a palette of rose quartz and malachite.
It’s a visual feast, thanks not only to Dixon’s own designs but also the “cabinets of curiosities” (think paperweights, tribal sculptures, even an antique diving helmet) he has dotted about, inspired by the great British collectors. The all-day menu, breakfasts and juices through to cocktails and small plates, picks up this theme of collecting, and takes inspiration from wherever it so wishes – lifestyle blogs, Ottolenghi, esoteric gastronomic restaurants, the glossy spreads in the Sunday supplements. It’s a “Wolseley” for the wellness set.
What’s Cooking? Being the gluttonous type, I boggle at some of the dishes racking up “likes” on Bronte’s Instagram feed: quinoa and chia seed porridge? Dragon fruit, pomelo and smoked bulgar wheat salad? It’s not what I wake up craving, but for greedies like me, Andrew Lassetter has provided Longhorn steaks slathered with blue cheese butter, eggs with Marmite and cheddar soldiers, and melting chocolate fondants with a chilli kick.
If the food’s at times cranky, it’s not self-denying. Lassetter, untroubled by locavore dogma, throws everything at the menu from extravagant giant prawns and luxurious truffle to exotic calamansi, pomegranates and lychees to create eye-popping, impactful dishes. But it’s the simplest dishes that work best: four fat scallops with yuzu, garlic and pink peppercorns; broccoli drizzled with tahini; bright, crunchy house pickles, and classic passion fruit crème brûlée.
Signature Dishes? Nori-salted skinny fries. The dusting of dark green seaweed doesn’t do a whole lot but that doesn’t stop this exotic-sounding side order being a contender for the chip de nos jours. Watch your back, truffle fries.
Best For: Gym bunnies
Address: Bronte, Grand Buildings, 1-3 The Strand, London, WC2N 5EJ, 020 7930 8855
Source: telegraph.co.uk Photos: Bronte.co.uk