The D&D group has become synonymous with some of London’s most classy restaurants, including everything from the now newly Michelin-starred Launceston Place to Le Pont De La Tour. Launceston Place’s win was actually something of a prestigious coup for the group, who have sometimes been accused of a sort of bland excellence in their establishments that has continued the traditions of Terence Conran, their original founder. Personally, I’ve always found them top-notch places to go for lunch or dinner, and don’t think I’ve ever had a bad meal in any of them.
Therefore, when I heard that they had a new and ambitious project in the City, South Place, I was keen to head down in the early days of the operation and see what was going on. The big twist here was that the restaurant, Angler, wasn’t the main thrust of the operation – instead, it’s a unapologetically business-oriented hotel as well, with the amusing quirk that the various meeting rooms are named after fictional spies (Purdey, Steed and so on), and a private games room and library for guests and members is called Le Chiffre, after the villain in the first James Bond novel, Casino Royale.
Still, it’s Angler that’s going to attract a lot of the attention here. Set on the top floor, it’s a smoothly professional operation, even in the first few weeks of its existence, that, as the name suggests, majors in seafood and fish. We eschewed the tempting-looking oysters and caviar at the beginning of the menu to go in a more conventional direction. Starters of scallop and lobster ravioli and scallop and langoustine ‘sausage’ were superbly cooked, tasted delectable, and were just the right size to tantalise the appetite without overwhelming; main courses of Cornish cod and steamed sea bass were even better. As an unrepentant and committed carnivore, the temptation for my finger to twitch down to the ‘meat’ section was strong, but I managed to avoid it. An excellent dessert of ‘millionaire’s shortbread’ completed a sumptuous meal, washed down with a fine bottle of Pouilly Fume and, at the charming manager’s insistence, a lovely glass of Nyetimber sparkling wine. Head chef Tony Fleming should be given three cheers for managing to produce such really top-notch seafood in a city that’s often struggled at the high end of pescetarian-friendly cooking.
We were fortunate enough to be road-testing one of the bedrooms as well, saving us a sated stagger across London, and can report that they’re as comfortable and lovely as you might expect, with particular credit going to the enormous baths and the very civilised touch that means that a film library is on hand completely gratis, meaning that a long wallow in the bathtub can then be followed by an equally lengthy session watching something silly or serious, mood depending. Eventually, after a good night’s sleep and an excellent (if somewhat pricey) breakfast, we headed out into the cool Sunday morning, reflecting on how D&D (the name stands for Des and David, the chairman and managing director) have managed to build on all their strengths, and yet keep a faintly quirky sensibility in play as well. Terrific stuff all round, chaps.
Angler, South Place Hotel 3 South Place, London EC2M 2AF, Tel: +44 20 3215 1260, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Angling for a return to South Place
When Alex Larman heard that D&D had a new and ambitious project in the City, South Place, he was keen to head down in the early days of the operation and see what was going on. The big twist here was that the restaurant, Angler, wasn’t the main thrust of the operation.
Alex Larman woke up at the tender age of 23 and, Martin Luther King-like, announced to the world that he had a dream. He was simultaneously going to write the 21st century's answer to Ulysses, direct the film that the bastard child of Scorsese, Kubrick and George Formby might have made and become a global roue on a hitherto unknown scale. Then reality kicked in, and the dream collapsed, in favour of a parlous and occasionally sketchy existence maintained writing about food, drink, film and all the other essential requirements of a modern boulevardier's life.
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