Attached to the posterior of Fortnum and Mason’s (London’s most quintessential department store) is 45 Jermyn Street. Echoing the high-quality you would expect from the historic store it attaches itself to, this fine-dining restaurant leads with a vibrant colour scheme in contrast to Fortnum’s famous pastel green palate.
We visit for a mid-week lunch and 45 Jermyn Street is the social centre point among St James’s smart set. With an ambience where understated sophistication is neither casual nor formal, large booths circle themselves around the dining room with hues of bright coral that sit starkly against touches of Fortnum and Mason’s iconic green.
45 Jermyn Street is inspired by a time when service, attention to detail and elegance were the hallmarks of a great restaurant and reincarnates the golden age of glamour with a fun, contemporary twist. Echoing those glamourous days gone by (and when hospitality was arguably at its finest) select from a luxurious but accommodating menu led by head chef Sam White (previously HIX) who offers high-end, modern London cuisine that reflects the fast-paced palate of the city’s demanding diners.
An all-day offering runs from 7am through until midnight. Early on, start kickstart with breakfast featuring both classic favourites and a collection of lighter dishes that are mindful of the city’s health conscious diners. Indulgent and somewhat more exciting classics include scrambled eggs with white truffle, an open omelette of wild mushroom with gruyère or the nostalgic kedgeree: no doubt popular with many of 45 Jermyn Street’s traditional diners.
Whilst on the flip side, lighter breakfast dishes include vegan buckwheat pancakes with seasonal berries and coconut yoghurt, chia seeds with mango and passion fruit or even a savoury option of heritage tomatoes on toast. These can be ordered alongside one of their colour coded smoothies: the green one (white grape, spinach, parsley and kombucha tea) or the pink one (strawberry, celery, pineapple, turmeric, lemon and black pepper) for instance. There’s even an option for a ‘Virtuous Mary’ should vodka not be on your agenda first thing.
We, however, visit for lunch whilst the dining room is in full swing. The lunchtime menu reflects the elegant space and overarching ethos of laidback luxury. A ‘white truffle’ section at the top catches eyes, jazzing up the simple toasted cheese sandwich which sits alongside the prestigious ‘champagne risotto’. Cast your eye to the right and 45 Jermyn Street’s caviar offering also proudly presents itself, served from the trolley, complete with blinis, baked new potatoes and scrambled eggs made tableside. Equally elegant are the oysters. My guest and I warm up with a few fresh Atlantic Carlingford Lough oysters, and the intriguing but highly recommended raw Cornish mackerel and caviar tacos which are both crisp and fresh.
Possibly one of Europe’s most elegant dishes is beef steak tartare which is available both as a starter or main. I choose this as my main course, sampling the high-quality meat sourced from Northern Ireland’s Glenarm Estate: the only estate where Fortnum’s source their beef. My guest continues with the seafood theme, selecting the wholesome filet of halibut from the Scottish Isle of Gigha, served in a large warm bowl with a Cornish seaweed broth and broad beans.
When it comes to the desserts, 45 Jermyn Street certainly don’t scrimp on a sweet finish, and in fact, they go full blast. Diners with a sweet tooth will be delighted by the timeless knickerbocker glory, a bramley apple crumble soufflé with vanilla custard ice cream or a rich salted caramel tart with banana ice cream. With my investigatory hat on, however, I was drawn in by a standout American style section of the dessert menu entitled ‘floats’.
These hedonistic finishers are nothing less than sweet, rich and boozy; characteristics I expect many of 45 Jermyn Street’s guests themselves to embody. Essentially an odd and indulgent combination of ice-cream floating in alcohol; among others, choose from the vanilla ice cream with passion fruit sorbet, east London Liquor Co. vodka, prosecco and Spuma limoncello, or the cornflake ice cream, with brown butter syrup, and four roses bourbon which I selected. A brilliantly brash finish to an on the surface very well-behaved restaurant.
Address: 45 Jermyn St, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6DN
Phone: 020 7205 4545
All imagery supplied by 45 Jermyn Street