Can the stylish Dean Street Townhouse measure up to every A-lister's favourite, The Ivy?

Talk about the right DNA. The Dean Street Townhouse is the brainchild of Nick Jones, the entrepreneur who founded the Soho House Group, and Richard Caring, the owner of Le Caprice, the Ivy, J Sheekey, Scott's, Annabel's, Mark's Club, Harry's Bar and dozens of other top-flight restaurants and clubs. Caring became the majority shareholder in the Soho House Group in 2008 and this is their first big joint venture in London.

Finding your way to the restaurant is harder than it looks. It's supposed to be located at 69-71 Dean Street, but the first doorway I went through turned out to be the entrance to the 39-bedroom hotel. In order to get to the restaurant, I had to leave the hotel, go back out on to the street, walk next door, and then re-enter. Slightly odd arrangement, particularly for those hotel guests hoping to eat breakfast in their dressing-gowns. Why no corridor linking the two? The explanation is that the two properties housing the hotel and restaurant are grade II-listed buildings and English Heritage wouldn't let Jones and Caring knock them through. There is a corridor, but it's on the first floor.

69 Dean Street, where the restaurant is located, has a colourful past. Built 1732-1735, it was bought by Vincent Novello in 1834 and, for a time, became the centre of the Novello family's music publishing business. The top two floors were later home to the Gargoyle Club, David Tennant's speakeasy that opened in 1928. Its last occupant was a Pitcher and Piano.

As soon as you enter, there is no doubt about its parentage. Like the Ivy, Scott's and J Sheekey, it has the appearance of a luxurious gentlemen's club, with lots of dark wood and brass rails. I would say it reminded me of the state room of the Titanic if that wasn't such a loaded comparison. It's unmistakably classical, a restaurant that wants you to think it's been around for at least 100 years.

The service is crisp and efficient, staff dashing about as discreetly as they can in a restaurant that's only been open a week. By the time I arrive at 8.15pm on a Wednesday, the place is buzzing and my companion, whom I was expecting to find at the bar, has been seated at a table to the right of the door. He is one glass into a bottle of 2008 Argentinian Malbec which, at £23.75, he pronounces "good value".

The menu is like a stripped-down version of the Ivy's, with plenty of modern British staples such as watercress soup, Scotch egg, Dover sole, and fish and chips. I start with smoked haddock soufflé followed by mince and boiled potatoes, while my companion has the seafood cocktail and the mixed grill.

My first course is excellent – a firm, rich soufflé with lots of deep, fishy flavour – but the mince is a little on the utilitarian side. This is supposed to be the Townhouse's signature dish – its version of the Ivy's cottage pie – but because it consists of just mince with a couple of boiled potatoes on top it looks as if something's missing. The flavour is good, particularly if you're a fan of Worcester Sauce, but it would work better as a pie. It's not a dish so much as a couple of ingredients in search of a home.

My friend enjoys his seafood cocktail and has no complaints about the mixed grill. It comprises steak, lamb chop, sausage and liver, all portions quite generous. However, he is a bit disappointed to discover that any vegetables must be ordered separately.

Judging from the pricing – the mince is £10.50 – the Dean Street Townhouse is aimed at a slightly more cost-conscious demographic than the Ivy or J Sheekey. It's Caprice Holdings' diffusion line, if you like. This is also reflected in the layout of the restaurant, with a large, old-fashioned bar along one side of the main dining-room and the tables arranged in a long line, almost like the dining car of a railway train. This means it's impossible to get a good view of who else is in the restaurant, no matter how much rubber-necking you do. Not a see-and-be-seen place, then.

A mid-range hotel restaurant is new territory for Jones and Caring, but the fact that the Townhouse has proved such an instant hit suggests they've got it right. I returned on a Monday evening a week later and the dining-room was just as crowded. If the Ivy is Caprice's Concorde, this is a Virgin Atlantic 747. It may not attract as many A-listers, but I suspect it will be no less popular for that.

15/20

Scores: 1-9 stay home and cook, 10-11 needs help, 12 ok, 13 pleasant enough, 14 good, 15 very good, 16 capable of greatness, 17 special, can't wait to go back, 18 highly honourable, 19 unique and memorable, 20 as good as it gets

Dean Street Townhouse 69-71 Dean Street, London W1, tel: 020 7434 1775 Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. Dinner: £106 for two, including wine and service

Second helpings: Boutique eat-and-sleeps

Olive Tree (Queensberry Hotel)

Russell Street, Bath, tel: 01225 447 928

Excellent and imaginative cuisine at this popular cellar, beneath a family-owned boutique hotel, though tables are shoehorned in

Russell's

20 High Street, Broadway, Worcestershire, tel: 01386 853 555

This stylish restaurant-with-rooms can seem a breath of fresh air in the centre of this picture-book-perfect Cotswold village; not cheap but its simple and modern approach generally pleases

Rhubarb (Prestonfield Hotel)

Priestfield Road, Edinburgh, tel: 0131 225 1333

Completely OTT, but the experience lives on in the memory for a long time; lovely country house with first-class food; for the full romantic experience, you need to stay

Suggested Topics
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    Day In a Page

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'