Towards the end of the Strand, a couple of doors down from the Waldorf Astoria, and on the edge of Covent Garden and theatre land, sits the epitome of elegance, The Delaunay.
Sister to The Wolseley, it calls itself a grand European Café Restaurant. And it is indeed rather grand.
Arriving at The Delaunay a few minutes early for a breakfast meeting, I was shown to a seat while my table was being prepared. From this view, I took in the classic European surroundings; black and white marble flooring, oak paneling, dark green leather seats, all harked to a Viennese Café – especially the table of assorted pastries, the crowning glory being pretzels.
|The Delaunay Grand Cafe|
Meanwhile, silver trays glinted as perfectly dressed waiting staff rushed hot plates of food to tables where suited business men and women were starting their day. It is the kind of place where I question if my ever so slightly scruffy journalist day-wear was quite appropriate, but I didn't receive one strange glance.
Classy surrounds and glittering service to match, there was no surly service or snobby attitudes here, with the staff being the right balance of attentive, even during the peak of the mid-week breakfast rush.
Silver pots of tea and coffee arrived, with a delicate tea strainer which had a self-contained rocking caddy to catch the drips, that confused me for a good couple of minutes – similar to this one, if you’re also confused by that awful description.
|Silver tea set at The Delaunay|
|A Viennese Breakfast? Delaunay special|
The Viennese Breakfast (£11.50) first caught my eye, offering smoked ham, salami, caraway infused Gouda, boiled egg and a pretzel. When I first tasted a pretzel, from a street vendor in New York, the disappointment was only upstaged by the awful tang of sea salt on my lips. But I gave it another go in Munich, and learnt that they are so much better in their country of origin. Austria, being the country next door, rather than thousands of miles away, I was tempted to give them another go. But in the end I went for a more traditional breakfast.
I ordered the eggs benedict (£7.50), while my host ordered the scrambled eggs with smoked salmon (£14.95). We also both ordered fresh orange juice.
|Eggs Benedict at The Delaunay|
I went for the small eggs benedict (one instead of two I presume, since the large was double the price). The egg was perfectly poached, while the hollandaise was creamy and not too sweet. Underneath the golden sauce, slices of ham perched on top of a soft English muffin – it was just as it should be.
It happens too often, and when it does it’s upsetting, but yet again, I had serious food envy. The plate placed on the opposite side of the table for my colleague was magnificent. The smoked salmon was crafted into a delicate nest for the buttery eggs to snuggle into. It was very beautifully presented and I very nearly dived in.
The Delaunay reminded me that sometimes all you want is excellent, yet simple food, presented with style and a smile in a classy setting. And that is exactly what this gem provides.
55 Aldwych, London, WC2, WC2B 4BB
020 7499 8558
|The takeaway counter at The Delaunay|
TIP: It also has a takeaway counter next door, where you can “start the day with Viennoiserie, hot bacon sandwiches & homemade granola or bircher muesli for breakfast.”