45 Jermyn St.
45 Jermyn St, St. James's, SW1Y 6DN
WLC Rank : 65
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 St., 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.