The background: Bronte has taken over a spot right next to Trafalgar Square and Charing Cross Station on The Strand, which, despite its location right in the heart of the city, has had trouble finding its mojo before. Bronte is headed by Trevor and Adam Davies, a father and son pair known for running Circus in Soho, who have assembled a crack team including executive head chef Andrew Lassetter, formerly of Il Vaporetto, Eight Over Eight and Cocoon, and head chef Guy Betteridge, formerly of the Gordon Ramsay group. The restaurant is named for its location – Bronte refers to Nelson’s aristocratic title of the Duke of Bronte, the town in Sicily, given to him by King Ferdinand of Naples following his support of the Neapolitan monarchy against an invasion of French Jacobins in the late 19th century.
The space: The interior has been designed by Tom Dixon and it shows in Bronte’s achingly beautiful deco curves, solid granite and stone bars, brass accents, and dusty rose and deep teal fabrics. The walls and shelves are adorned with curiosities and objets in a tastefully eclectic and appealing style. The restaurant is divided into three areas: the terrace, which considering its location adjacent to Trafalgar Square is surprisingly private, relaxed and quiet, the casual café at the front of the restaurant and a more formal dining room at the back.
The bar: Bronte is a great place to visit for just a cocktail or a glass of wine from the well-curated list on the terrace, while the weather is still fine, or at the elegant bar. The cocktail list is a very tempting combination of classic flavours with South American, Caribbean and Asian influences. Try the Mad Hatter, which combines Darjeeling syrup with vodka, Campari and lager for something unusual and refreshing, or the Hass Been, a delicious mixture of mezcal, manzana liqueur, avocado and apple purée.
What to eat: While the café at Bronte is perfect for a light bite and is especially good for weekend brunch (don’t miss the fluffy buttermilk pancakes or perfect bouncy bao buns), Brummell dined in the main restaurant. Food at Bronte is European with a heavy dose of Asian inspiration and the menu in the main dining room shows Japanese and Thai flavours. To start, try sharing some of the expertly prepared Asian dishes such as the truffle and avocado or rock shrimp tempura maki, tempura courgette flower or rock shrimp tempura maki. To follow, choose from the land (meat), sea (fish) or ground (vegetarian) menus. Highlights of the land menu include lamb with a smokey aubergine purée and a barbeque baby chicken with a red pepper, honey and sesame dressing with pickled ginger and wasabi. From the sea menu the miso black cod is particularly wonderful – sweet and umami at the same time – and the fillet of seabass with seaweed salad, edamame, miso and chilli is also delicious. From the ground menu the edamame and kale pancake with smoked avocado ratatouille, sheep’s milk yoghurt and harissa is a feast for the eyes and the taste buds. To finish, the chocolate bomb is an impressive and spectacular signature dessert while the peach melba arctic roll and ice-cream sandwich are an elevated interpretation of nostalgic classics.
The bill: Around £50 per head for three courses with wine.
In summary: A magnificent addition to central London’s dining scene with fabulous food and one of the city’s most glamorous dining rooms.
Bronte, 1–3 Strand The Grand Building, London, WC2N 5EJ, bronte.co.uk