The Delaunay Counter, 55 Aldwych, London
The doors of West End super-restaurant The Delaunay burst open at the beginning of the year.
All shimmering marble floors, dark wood and low lighting, it looked like the type of place where Don Draper and Roger Sterling would happily while away an evening draining expensive cocktails.
The reviews were mostly amazing – great food, great decor, exactly what you’d expect from the people behind The Ivy and The Wolseley etc etc.
However, The Metro’s anonymous food critic suggested the place was guilty of looks fascism and favouritism, relegating nobodies or anyone less than ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS to the cheap seats. This, along with the wallet-wringing prices and the fact I don’t really do serious, glamorous restaurants (maybe one day…) meant it wasn’t Destination No 1 for me or my gang.
It’s little sister restaurant-slash-deli-slash-takeout The Counter at The Delaunay, full of ravishing patisserie posing in shiny glass cases, £4.95 glasses of Prosecco, delicious-but-v affordable lunches, on the other hand..?
The DC is like a cool, chic diffusion line, the Mui Mui to The Delaunay’s Prada. The Elizabeth Olsen to its Olsen Twins.
A meeting with my cuz was the excuse to go there one week day. Sitting there on our lunch breaks, amidst the wood panelling and retro movie posters, chatting and chomping on light and tasty vegetable strudels – accompanied by new potatoes and dressed salads for just £5.50 – we felt very decadent, very Peggy Olsen indeed. Please note (!): although officially the decor is 1920s Viennese café, there’s something undeniably Mad Men about the place.
In review terms, it’s probably not very helpful that we had the same lunch… But we both loved our strudels and could just tell (!) that the people munching on menu gems such as chicken schnitzels and salt beef pretzels (both around the £6 mark) were loving their fodder too.
There’s a whole selection of delish looking sarnies, salads, soups and hot dishes to choose from, ranging in price from from £3.50 to £8.75 for the chef’s roast – which seems quite a small price to pay for feeling like a 1960s Madison Avenue whizz kid (by way of an Art Deco-esque European cafe) for an hour.
The DC also does brekky and in the spirit of trying everything once, I popped there for a coffee and a sniff of the croissants the other morning (still on this flipping holiday ‘diet’). As I waited for my skimmed latte (just £2.10, smaller but cheaper than my usual Eat coffee), my eyes wandered across a veritable Willy Wonka’s Factory of a glass counter full of delicious pastries, muffins, cakes, and sweets in a rainbow of pastel colours, all of which needed eating really hard. As soon as I come back from Greece, I’m going on an early morning muffin blow-out.