45 Jermyn St.
45 Jermyn St, St. James\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s, SW1Y 6DN
WLC Rank : 47
Glass from : £ 9.50 (175 ml)
BEST FORFlattering dining room
Nicely-paced, accessible list pepped with the odd first growth or equivalent
Mine host, David Nichter
Gutsy, flamboyant dishes often finished at the table
From Norfolk to New Zealand, one of Piccadilly's most enjoyable destination restaurants is a delight for diners who enjoy at-table culinary theatrics and oenophiles alike.
David Nichter (formerly of Villandry, The Delaunay, and Alfred’s at Alfred Dunhill) oversees the dusty pink-hued wine list at 45 Jermyn St. as well as managing the restaurant; he also oversees the wine offer at the Hong Kong spinoff, Fortnum’s 181 at Victoria Dockside.
Neither venue is automatically “fixed” to Fortnum & Mason’s buying strategy, hence the appearance of bottles from 266 Wines at Jermyn Street, an indie importer, “which has depth in Champagne, small French domains and some of the best up-and-coming wineries of northern Spain.” Indeed, the investors in 266 also run The Oystermen restaurant, Covent Garden, of which David is “a big fan” and “came in for their Christmas lunch.”
Although there is no actual sommelier at 45 Jermyn St., the front-of-house team are trained to provide advice and tasting samples to compliment the trolleys featuring enticingly-priced caviar with fluffy, freshly scrambled eggs, flambéed lobster spaghetti with artichokes and lemon verbena, a hugely aromatic flambéed beef Wellington for two, and (check in advance that it is available) flambéed blackberry and lime Baked Alaska. Other dishes chosen from menus illustrated by Monty Python-esque Dutch artist, Zeloot, may include a truffle toastie with Jacques Carillon Puligny-Montrachet during truffle season, which Nichter calls, “a match made in heaven,” and, with excellent grouse pie, Château Musar red 2002. Keep an eye out for other options brought in by new chef, Sam White, formerly of Hix (RIP).
Also by the glass are the white alter egos of producers more associated with red wine, such as white Musar, and white Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Beaucastel Blanc). The magnums sections offer rich pickings, too, featuring, for this postcode, the likes of fairly-priced Dom Pérignon, Phélan-Ségur and rested Gaja Sori Tildin, while the selection from the USA is cutely formed and accessible. Meanwhile, rosés such as Domaines Ott’s Clos Mireille “are becoming a bit of an all year wine.” Nichter also includes native Tokaj from in dry form (Oremus and Bott Pince) and sweet, from 1993 (Bene Pinceszet).
Sharing the same designer as 45 Jermyn Street, Martin Brudnizki, Hong Kong’s 181 restaurant has been “heavily influenced” by the London restaurant, “with 45’s bartender, Patrick Coyle behind the bar – and I created the wine list,” says Nichter. This proved “tricky” on account of the time difference. The result stars one-third of Fortnum & Mason’s own label range and two-thirds from local suppliers.”
Beside 45 Jermyn St. is the Wine Bar, below a vaulted brick roof, where the wine cabinets contain regularly changing, dimly lit labels adhering to “Grower of The Month” and “Champagne of The Month. In fact, more than 100 wines available by the glass, including extensive own label partnerships such as Riecine Chianti Classico, perhaps with the pasta of the day. A further 1,200 wines are available next door in the wine shop next-door, released when deemed ready by wine and spirits buyers, Jamie Waugh and Oscar Dodd, available at retail plus a modest corkage. Devour these with oysters, Fortnum’s smoked salmon and their famous Scotch Egg with Piccadilly Piccalilli.
By Douglas Blyde.
Despite a healthy overlap with Fortnum & Mason’s wine boutique next-door, 45 is “not fixed” to the upmarket department store’s buying strategy. Hence, the appearance of very reasonably priced Bull’s Blood (Bolyki Pinceszet, Eger) on this easily navigated, pretty-in-pink, 200 bins-strong wine list. David Nichter (previously of Villandry, The Delaunay, and Alfred’s at Alfred Dunhill) rediscovered the rich red while dining at Bar Boulud, being “shocked how well it drank.” Hungarian, Nichter also includes native Tokaj from in dry form (Oremus and Bott Pince) and sweet (Bene Pinceszet).
Although there is no actual sommelier, the front of house at this smart but accessible, assuredly run Mayfair dining room, are happy to provide advice and tasting samples to accompany orders which should, if you want to get the most out of your experience, include at least one or more items from trolleys featuring caviar with freshly scrambled eggs, flambéed lobster spaghetti with artichokes and lemon verbena, flambéed beef wellington for two, and flambéed blackberry and lime Baked Alaska. Other dishes chosen from menus illustrated by Dutch artist, Zeloot, may include Glenarm Estate steak tartare, and new for 2019, wagyu-esque Te Mana rack of lamb and belly from New Zealand with various styles of turnip.
There is particular interest by the glass, which might feature the white alter egos of environs more associated with red production, such as white Château Musar, and, via Coravin, white Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Beaucastel Blanc). The magnums page makes for rich pickings, too, featuring at least 10 examples ranging from rested St. Estèphe to a long-established Stellenbosch producer, via northern Spain. Bordeaux and Burgundy are stalwart territories, as one might expect from an SW1 postcode, while the selection from the USA is cutely formed.
Picked out in pools of light and overlooking covetable violet glass and silver decanters, the marble bar counter is well worth perching at, despite the sometimes frustrating righting gimbal of the stools enforced by designer, Martin Brudnizki, to partake in a glass of Provence pink from Domaines Ott*, flute of Billecart-Salmon Champagne, or one of slick barman, Patrick Coyles excellent cocktails, including the mezcal-pepped ‘Jekyll & Blyde’, co-devised with this author… Coyles will incidentally soon be helping launch F&M’s Hong Kong outpost come September.
By Douglas Blyde.
45 Jermyn St. doesn’t have one of London’s longest lists, and neither does it carry a hugely eclectic range, but it manages to be one of the capital’s best places to drink wine. Curated by the restaurant manager, David Nichter, previously of Villandry, the selection is littered with keenly-priced classics; the sort of names that have been edged out of trendier restaurants, but bring a smile to the face of anyone who loves wine.
There are plenty of options by the glass, carafe and magnum at the front of the list, while standard bottles are arranged by region – starting with Herefordshire – and finishing with Sherry. Within each area is a well-known, benchmark offering: for example, the house pour fizz is Louis Roederer Brut Premier, the New World Pinot offering hails from Au Bon Climat, the Rioja from Lopez de Heredia, the Chateauneuf-du-Pâpe from Beaucastel, and the rosé from Domaines Ott*. There’s even a selection of Château Musar, both white and red.
If there is a surprising element to the selection it is the handful of Hungarian wines, although this is explained by the fact Nichter comes from the nation. Indeed, one of the best value whites available by the glass, carafe and bottle is the Oremus Dry Frumint ‘Mandolás’.
Those with a bigger budget might be tempted by the Bâtard-Montrachet 2011 from Domaine de la Vougeraie or, for a red, the Haut-Brion 1999.
Like the wine, the food at 45 Jermyn St. is old-school, delicious and indulgent, featuring trolleys of caviar, beef Wellington, and bananas flambé, as well as rice pudding – along with a spoiling selection of ice-cream cocktails if you are craving a final hit of alcohol and calories before leaving this cosseting environment tucked away among the tailors of Piccadilly.
By Patrick Schmitt.