Surrey’s Premier Lifestyle Magazine

My month in food

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Stephanie Brookes, BBC Radio London food expert, offers her pick of an eating establishment for this month, Charlie’s at Brown’s Hotel. For a bona fide restaurant superfan, such as myself, I often follow a chef around to each new opening like an adoring groupie. It’s quite something when my dining colleague spots a celebrity in a restaurant, and I tend to look over their shoulder in the hopes of seeing a true idol – the head chef. Such is my adoration of Adam Byatt’s sublime cooking that an invitation to Charlie’s at Brown’s Hotel was snapped up so quickly I promptly cancelled my week of planned eats to make sure my days were free for such an event.

Adam’s latest venture at Brown’s has burst onto London’s dining scene with every food writer, blogger and celebrity eagerly snapping away at his inimitable creations. Each day, my social media feed is continually filled with delectable offerings that are fast becoming the ubiquitous must-try dishes of the moment. Of course, the proof is always in the eating, but my hopes were high for one of my favourite chefs in London. And, I must say, that as an added bonus, a visit to Brown’s always feels like something of a treat.
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Brown’s, to me, always feels like one of London’s more discreet five-star hotels, and a positive haven from the nearby bustle of Piccadilly. It also never feels rushed and seems to work on its own time: pretty much perfect for quiet, weekend lunches. The dining room is a dignified affair, with antique panelling and sumptuous booths overlooking a peaceful Albemarle Street.

Glancing at the starters, I noticed one that has regularly popped up on Instagram and immediately grabbed my attention: Pressed terrine of chicken, duck liver and ceps with toasted brioche. The dish itself is an instant eye-pleaser, with each individual ingredient perfectly defined. At first, a moreish earthy hit of buttery duck liver, combined with the tenderest chicken (poached, perhaps?), was pliant enough to spread onto the accompanying brioche. The terrine would have served as a complete dish on its own, but the bread choice worked particularly well. The addition of ceps provided added texture, as well as an overall smokiness to the dish.

Roasted grouse, blackberries and bread sauce was an undoubtedly regal looking entrée which had my fellow diner groaning with immediate regret. The pinkish, iron-rich grouse benefitted from the sweet tang of the blackberries. A creamy, slightly runny accompanying bread sauce was promptly drizzled over the dish. Bread sauce, after five minutes of sitting, has the tendency to be an overly congealed affair, whereas this retained its thinner consistency and provided a milky, mellow contrast to the richness of the game.
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A quiet interlude between the main course and dessert was just enough time to collectively coo over the dishes, which were, as expected, as good as the glowing online praise they had already received.

The final act was a no-brainer with an enthusiastic “yes” to a classic Mille Feuille. It’s a treat I usually save for trips to Paris where my search for the best pastry monopolises most of my thoughts (and time). It’s therefore thrilling to find one of my favourite desserts so exquisitely presented: the crunchy butter-rich pastry was held together with a generous piping of vanilla cream and the crumby texture of the pastry had a burnt toffee flavour which instantly elevated the dish. I would have preferred the addition of some fresh raspberries dotted within the cream, however, this is purely a personal preference and I never grumble too much where pastry is involved.

At the end of a lingering Saturday lunch, I was a little disappointed it had all passed by too swiftly. The food was refined, effortlessly pleasing and oh so indulgent. As the cooler months bring on a need for warmth and comfort, Charlie’s will happily cocoon visitors in one of the best dining experiences London has to offer.

essence info

Charlie’s at Brown’s Hotel
Albemarle Street, London W1S 4BP
Telephone: 020 7518 4004