The part of London between Portland Place and Goodge Street near Goodge Street tube station has historically been a bit of a culinary no-man’s land, with little to tempt you to eat in the estate-agent-christened ‘Noho’ unless you actually worked in the area. Restaurants close to Goodge Street seemed few and far between and yet many people enjoy dining in Fitzrovia.
[Percy & Founders restaurant has since closed and become The Arber Garden but I’m keeping the review up as it’s a lovely reminder of my lunch there]
Dining at Percy & Founders
Percy & Founders on Goodge Street, the all-day bar and restaurant built on the site of the old Middlesex Hospital, has a nod to tradition in that you can actually peer through a glass wall from the restaurant into the hospital’s original chapel, perfectly preserved and soon to be open for people to have a look around.
However in spite of individual touches such as old typewriters (I loved the one next to our table and yearned to take it home with me) the overall decor is very clean, light wood and straight lines, very much along the lines of All Bar One in the 90s.
It might look smart and clean but it doesn’t make for a very warm ambiance so it is hard to imagine spending all afternoon here over lunch, but it possibly gets cosier in the evenings. The lack of warmth in the atmosphere isn’t helped by the fact that it’s just so vast, more than 200 covers, so it does feel rather clinical and Scandinavian.
However the design (and the pricing) makes it perfectly suitable for a business lunch and the upside of the slightly bland decor was that the food was an unexpected delight, much better than I had expected, so at the end of the meal I could happily have gone back to the beginning of the menu and started all over again, were it not that I was completely full.
Ordering lunch – with a couple of cocktails
We started with a couple of cocktails – a bellini and a signature Lady Percy, with Sacred gin, egg white, lime juice and sage, which was delicious and named after the wife of Hugh Percy, the Duke of Northumberland and the founder of the Middlesex hospital. For starter, I had the lobster and prawn fish cakes with saffron mayo (£10.50) which was very tasty while Dan, my fellow diner, had the tuna carpaccio with avocado, spring onion and lime (£9.50) which looked great and which met with Dan’s approval.
There were salads such as hot smoked salmon and pomegranate and avocado available for £12, but we opted for the cornish crab with tagliatelle and the pan-fried bream with fennel and courgette (both £14.50). They were both exactly as you’d hope for, nothing more, nothing less, and while that is not necessarily a negative thing, that summed up the problem with P&F – it’s very nice but maybe just not very exciting. I was more thrilled by my dessert which was unexpected: a massive crepe souffle with apricots and caramel (£14) which was the size of a pillow and just as fluffy: finally something fun and memorable (Dan had the key lime pie (£9.50) and polished the lot off very happily).
The coffee was that sweet, cherryish, extract-style coffee which I can’t stand, but that’s maybe just a matter of personal taste and the manager did come over to say that they were probably going to switch to a more traditional bitter coffee soon.
The loos are very smart, there’s a downstairs private dining room (it’s actually rather public because it has glass walls) and all in all the restaurant is a nice addition to the area. At weekends Percy & Founders also does a bottomless prosecco or bloody mary for £16 per person for two hours to go with your brunch or Sunday roast which might make for a livelier atmosphere. I’m not sure it’s worth making an extra-special effort for, but if you’re in the area then it’s definitely worth a try.
Percy & Founders, 1 Pearson Square, Fitzroy Place W1T 3BF (at the junction of Mortimer and Berners Street)
020 3761 0200
If you like reviews of London hotels then check out: A Sherlock-worthy stay at Holmes hotel on Baker Street; A penthouse stay at nhow hotel, east London; Mayfair Townhouse off London’s Piccadilly; A luxurious five-stay at at The Stafford, Mayfair; Disco lights and a budget stay at Point A, Kings Cross; Hyatt Place London City East off Whitechapel street;