I walked up from the Commonwealth Club at St James's, through Mayfair to Bond Street Station, finding the restaurant just across the road. The route I took, just a wee bit circuitous, passed Saville Row and the admirable Bond Street. South Molton Street is famous as a high profile target location for female shoppaholics, as Vogue puts it, One of London's prized shopping destinations. Names on the street include Molton Brown, Catimini, Vidal Sassoon and Ruco Line.
From the moment we entered 43 we knew this was going to be fun. Heather, our gregarious waitress from Ontario was amusing and helpful - a comedienne. Additionally, 43 South Molton is managed by a young and fun-loving team who are clearly loving every minute in their business.
At the street entrance you see a small cafeteria style of small (18 covers) restaurant , so your expectations aren't raised too high. This belies the really good quality of the food and wine the restaurant serves to its lucky customers.
Heather recommended a Chilean wine, a fresh and fruity Santa Puerto Cabernet Sauvignon 2003. While sipping on this we enjoyed the surroundings which are somewhat eclectic. On the shelves are packs of old collectors cards, old cereal packets and various bits and pieces of antique paraphernalia. There's no floor covering, leaving the original floor boards.
There's a small store from which you can buy a variety of unusual, nay odd, items. The range encompasses consumables (toiletries), dry foods and ironmongery. In the fancy goods category are Alligator Heads, Antlers, Children's Gloves, Elastic Straps, HP Sauce and even Nipple Shields (whatever those are!) and Naughty Knickers.
Head chef Juri Ravagnli, formerly of Marco Pierre White's Drones restaurant, has put together an intriguing menu. The meal commenced with Asparagus, Broad Beans & Poached Egg with Mustard Dressing. The mustard dressing went surprisingly w3ell with the poached egg.
As you all, know, I just love Cajun and spicy foods. So in spite of, as a rule not liking fish, I was delighted to find there was Seafood Jumbalaya on Garlic Toast. This had a remarkably strong fish flavour, a great variety of fish in a stunning tomato based sauce. This was an adorable dish that I'm going to have to go back for again and again!
Being greedy I then had Sirloin of Argentinean Beef with Bearnaise & Chips. Foodie philistine that I am I'd asked for this to be well done. It arrived perfectly cooked for my taste. This was a top quality cut of meat, nicely browned on the outside, with just a hint of pink at its heart.
For desert we delighted in the Mango and Maraschino Salad and in the Tiramisu.
We headed upstairs to the club for after-dinner drinks. The decor up there is also unusual. At one end is a cocktail bar. At the other is a lounge area with well worn comfortable armchairs and settees. Other guests were clearly having a lot of fun in this nicely relaxed atmosphere. Drinks-master, Jasper Tay, has put together an extensive selection of cocktails, in addition to which Bar Manager, Mark Drew delighted in showing us his creative skills.
Finally, there's another lounge bar in the cellar under the restaurant, with ample room for serious parties.
Overall we have here a restaurant, private club and bar, staffed by a young and dynamic crew. It makes an interesting counterpoint to this ostentatious luxury shopping area with tons of potential to go in any direction it's clientele might be interested in. It does indeed have innovation, comfort and style.
Tel: 0207 647 4343
Wally Robertson, March 2005