Readers of Wonderland City might recall that we visited The Delaunay not long ago, in January, as one stop in our Covent Garden Cocktail Crawl. With its location on the western quadrant of Aldwych, The Delaunay abuts three areas of interest for London revellers of style: Holborn, the Strand and the aforementioned Covent Garden.
We returned to it for pre-dinner drinks and a full meal more recently, as we felt the place deserved a profile of its own, like most other creations of Messrs. Corbin & King. The basic formula for all their restaurants consists of elegant pre-war spaces (actual or re-created), courteous service, classic European cuisine and… something else which many other restaurateurs attempt but fail to achieve: a sense of performance, of arrival that draws on the material excellence of the places but somehow transcends it. One might doubt whether that the Golden Era hospitality revival of the 21st century would have occurred without Corbin & King (Mr McNally, in NYC, also deserves recognition).
This particular incarnation of the C&K ethos is conveniently situated along the oldest part of Saxon Lundenwic, that transitional settlement that existed between Roman Londinium and the Norman twin cities of London + Westminster. Largely remodelled around the turn of the 20th century, this area is an excellent setting to the Old World elegance that our readers enjoy and participate in. Such details matter.
Speaking of details, one approaches the Delaunay through a dignified, colonnaded entrance, arriving in a small but polished vestibule that contains the cloakroom and a link to The Delaunary Counter Bar and Cafe, next door. Beyond it is the bar, in full view of the main dining room but separate from it, creating a mutual exchange of buzz and anticipation without reducing the bar to a mere adjunct. It is highly recommended to visit the bar even if simply for a sharpener or a glass of champagne, with a vibe that feels ‘on the cusp of Art Deco’. The expansive dining room extends to wood-panelled, frosted glass, marble and warm lighting theme, making it rather grand without dwarfing the client.
The menu (see bottom), boasts several of the well-tried C&K Mitteleuropean specialties like schnitzel and wurst, adding also an international touch with classic dishes like Duck Confit, Beef Stroganoff, Devilled Lamb Kidneys, Goulash and Kedgeree. The food did not disappoint, nor did the refreshments or the solicitous staff, led by the impeccable (and very kind) Maitre d’ Gianluca Antonelli.
Although we were able to procure a table with a week’s notice, the place was noticeably busy both in the bar and diner. The Counter, which was re-opened some weeks later than the rest, following the 2020-21 unpleasantness, is also obviously doing well and is a nice stop in the daytime.
If the typical ‘town’ restaurant hewed to these standards of civility, quality and comparative affordability, perhaps we would we grow complacent and start a website about ‘quirky’ places with greasy table-tops, challenging food and unconventional manners. As it is, The Delaunay is another Corbin & King winner – an oasis of civilisation and taste.
55 Aldwych, WC2B 4BB
Tel.: 020 7499 8558