Immaculate in its design, Fortnum’s The Fountain Restaurant’s replacement, 45 Jermyn Street, is a sure bet from design to plate.
Unlike the tired tea room that it replaced 18 months ago, 45 is run as a separate entity, rather than a restaurant within Fortnum’s, and is a place I have loved since its opening. It combines old-school glamour with contemporary dining, and décor and fittings to die for, blending the orange and F&M green with the dark stained wood works seamlessly.
The service from every member of staff is always charming and executed with a smile and attention to detail. In fact 45 is all about detail and at no point does it falter. Whether you’re having breakfast, lunch, dinner, a cocktail, or a pre/post theatre supper, the modern British and European food is impeccably prepared using the finest ingredients, and always includes a refined twist. A number of dishes are cooked and served tableside from the trolley, adding another level to the professionalism exemplified by 45.
Snails & Cocktails
I have never once had a bad dish at 45, and in many cases it has been the best version of the dish I have had the delight to eat. On the opening menu were snails with garlic and parsley butter, and gorgonzola; it was eye opening and set the tone for everything I’ve had since. The combination of the butter with the salty umami cheese was a match made in heaven and set off the earthy snails with such depth that you wondered why no one had done this before. I still quietly pray that I will see it back on the menu, every time I walk in the door and sit down for one of 45’s own cocktail creations (the cocktail menu is extensive and creative.
Tartare & Foie Gras
The steak tartare in my humble opinion is the finest currently in London, and I make a monthly Saturday lunch pilgrimage to 45 especially for it. A recent discovery was the Chicken Liver and Foie Gras Parfait with Onion Brioche, a classic dish and very innocent sounding, belying the creation put before you. What comes is the best classically flavoured parfait I’ve had in ages. A swirl of brioche containing onion compote, it’s topped with a large quenelle of light, smooth and rich parfait, over which is sprinkled crispy onion and spring onion, all finished with a drizzle of deep flavoured red wine jus. It is quite the culinary achievement.
Mains at 45 Jermyn Street include a beef stroganoff for two cooked on the trolley and a roast duck for two also finished on the trolley. The steak with fries is accompanied by the spicy Cafe de Paris butter, a lovely alternative to the usual herb, anchovy and pepper butters. Real stars can be found on the sides list, where the likes of a surprisingly delicate cauliflower cheese and a beautiful and nuanced fennel gratin can be found.
Mains at lunch include calves’ liver, cooked pink and served with a sticky jus and fried sage. You’ll also find a lamb, dauphinoise and salsa verde, that will fill any hole without compliant thanks to the crispy moreish cooked edges.
You will always find seasonal ingredients on the menu, be it Gulls Eggs, wild garlic, or Grouse and other game. During the grouse season for instance there is a choice of three grouse dishes, including a traditional roast grouse, and an stunning grouse and foie gras pie. This pie sees a beautiful dome of delicate and buttery puff pastry enclosing a grouse breast topped with a large sice of foie gras, topped with the second breast and a pie of savoy cabbage. Rich and gamey it’s served with a malt gravy and blackberry compote to cut through it all.
45 Jermyn Street is certainly well worth a visit, though I’m not so sure that the pricing meets one of its aims: to be high quality at a cost that is more accessible to the younger foodie. That said, the steak tartare starter is enough for a decent lunch and they serve a great value set lunch menu on the weekend.
Fortnum & Mason has well and truly put itself on the culinary map of London. From food to drink, to service, every bar and restaurant offers something unique, while exemplifying the old school glamour of the store in a contemporary way. You are left in no doubt as to the quality and creative product you’ve enjoyed.
London Lamppost Score – 4.5/5
Perfect For – Just about anything
45 Jermyn St., St. James’s
London, SW1Y 6DN