July, London W1: ‘A sort of M&S meal deal for Coutts cardholders’ – restaurant review | Grace Dent on restaurants

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July, an Alsace-inspired restaurant, is simply a beautiful idea, which is really each restaurants begin. Nobody, backmost successful nan blue-sky-thinking days of opening a joint, has ever planned to unfastened a stinker. Restaurants are perilously costly ventures. Pop stars KLF whitethorn erstwhile person burned £1m connected Jura, but astatine slightest they sewage to spell to furniture afterwards. Hospitality, however, ne'er sleeps, truthful if, for illustration Solynka Dumas and Julian Oschmann, you are burning money by opening a 44-cover, all-day German/Swiss eating acquisition astatine nan hectic extremity of London’s Charlotte Street, you’ll beryllium beautiful tied up.

The pair’s caller edifice successful nan bosom of Fitzrovia is decked retired successful sumptuous, sunset-hued suede and leather, and offers a database of low-intervention wines that’s apparently curated by that wine-world sanction du jour, Honey Spencer. July besides splashed nan rate connected employing personification to return beautiful snaps of its Alsace-themed imagination menu, including yummy-looking breaded deep-fried munster , pork terrine, herb dumplings successful broth, exquisite salads, lamb hearts pinch greenish sauce, and achromatic asparagus pinch ham and hollandaise. The dreamy database goes on: astatine weekends, I’m told, location will beryllium full Fosse Meadow chickens pinch homemade mayo, which I imagined arsenic a spot for illustration Bob Fosse chickens, having danced chaotic and free, and built up plentifulness of lovely, tasty flesh.

Deep-fried munster cheese, mustard, cornichons, astatine July, W1.
July’s paper promises ‘yummy-looking’ deep-fried munster pinch mustard and cornichons …

Dumas and Oschmann whitethorn ne'er person tally a edifice earlier astatine immoderate level, but, according to nan trading spiel, they loved having friends complete erstwhile they lived successful Berlin and are successful nan business of “thoughtful hosting”, which apparently intends that July is “a existent passion project, calved retired of a shared emotion for entertaining, and utilizing hospitality to create connections and long-lasting memories”.

Absolutely nary lies were told there. My 2 visits were genuinely unforgettable. My first correction was to sojourn connected a Tuesday lunchtime and expect to eat immoderate of nan aforementioned delicious Alsatian offerings. There was only a small, punchy paper of 4 items, 1 being that well-loved classic, sourdough baguette filled pinch chunks of cauliflower, for £12.50; aliases a lilliputian information of food tarte for £12. There was besides roast beef and horseradish baguette – nan real sensation of Alsace – and a miserly portion of hazelnut barroom smeared pinch cocoa dispersed for £8.

 ‘Not great.’
July’s poached trout pinch creamed nettles, trout roe, devilled ovum and horseradish: ‘Not great.’ Photograph: Safia Shakarchi/The Guardian

My impermanent necked a walnut aged fashioned – very good, sweet, powerful – to quell their disappointment. “I do apologise,” I said, staring puzzled astatine my cauliflower sandwich. “I thought they served, well, food.” Apart from 1 different personification sipping wine, we were nan only guests. There is perchance a relationship betwixt nan harrowing dearth of clientele and July’s determination to connection only weird, unappetising, hard-to-chew, overpriced baguettes astatine lunchtime. It’s a benignant of M&S repast woody for Coutts cardholders connected immoderate type of high-fibre purge. I sympathise pinch them, though – cooking luncheon is simply a spot of a faff, isn’t it? People will move up, beryllium a nuisance, and spoil each that thoughtful hosting and long-lasting memories.

On nan Saturday night, I return for meal pinch a different guest, because nan first 1 was nary longer speaking to me, hoping to acquisition nan afloat majesty of Alsatian cuisine. We are, again, nan only guests, different than a bunch of hedge-fund types drinking low-intervention vino connected nan terrace outside. A beautiful server brings america nan nutrient menu, which is, again, brief. There’s nan fancy chickenhearted to stock for £45, served pinch crockery and spuds, arsenic good arsenic – hooray! – that deep-fried munster. There’s immoderate not awesome trout rillettes pinch thin, spindly croutons, and immoderate very mustardy devilled eggs. Puddings are nan miser’s hazelnut barroom again, and a crepe.

A rhubarb, ginger and custard crepe, astatine July, London.
July’s rhubarb and custard crepe: ‘Why was excavation cold?’

The food arrives uncooked. It’s conscionable a slab trim from nan artifact and served pinch a fewer pickles. Lighting nan stove is intelligibly excessively arduous. Then nan chickenhearted arrives. “This is half a chicken,” my impermanent says connected seeing 1 breast, 1 limb and 1 helping successful a vessel of bladed jus pinch a mini vessel of forgettable pinkish fir potatoes, immoderate wilted greens and a vessel of salad.

At this point, nan 2 owners appear, wearing their coats and wishing their meagre clientele each nan champion for our evening, earlier disappearing into nan nighttime pinch nan hedge funders outside. Joyful memories and awesome connections were decidedly created that night, conscionable not successful Dumas and Oschmann’s restaurant, wherever I sat wondering wherever our different half a chickenhearted had gone and why my crepe was cold.

July has go a existent bugbear to me: nan edifice that existed only successful nan minds of its owners and nan group they paid to conjure it up. Dumas, whose family person a awesome liking successful nan French luxury marque Hermès, tin intelligibly spend not to attraction if her edifice thoroughly disappoints its customers. She tin moreover spend to upset me, because I americium but 1 mini female asking for her food to beryllium fried. And for nan magnitude of money sloshing astir this passion project, she tin decidedly spend to nonstop retired full chickens.

  • July, 10 Charlotte Street, London W1, 07498 905 392. Open Mon-Fri 8am-11pm, Sat 9am-11pm. From astir £45 a caput à la carte astatine dinner, positive drinks and service

  • The Comfort Eating pinch Grace Dent podcast returns connected Tuesday 11 June. Find nan latest episodes here

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Source theguardian
theguardian