Bronte is a beauty of a restaurant. Designed by British brand Tom Dixon – worth a swoon for their bowls & platters alone – every inch of the restaurant is a dream of brushed gold lighting, emerald leather banquettes and a cotton candy pink bar.
Sat squarely on a corner of the Strand, the bar gives you the opportunity to sit inside watching denim shirted bartenders mix a little magic or perch outside for al fresco cocktail drinking as you watch the world go by in Trafalgar Square. The sweet & smoky mescal heavy ‘Mirage’ is laced with pineapple, cactus fruit liqueur & passion-fruit and comes served in the sort of heavy crystal tumbler that makes you feel as though you’re getting a real drink; with a lick of heat & a kiss of blackberry, it’s a perfect way to start your evening.
Once the first round of drinks had begun soothing away the frazzled edges of London in August, we were ushered through to the dining room, a space of understated elegance in possession of a beautiful back-lit bar bigger than my bathroom. Our 5.45pm walk-in arrival meant that we had to return the table by 7.45pm but we were never made to feel rushed. Waiters were Kinfolk-chic and attentive for the duration of our meal which began with a dainty little dish of house pickles and a warm welcome.
Small & large plates dominate the menu with prices running from £5-£14 per dish and in the recent spirit of everything Olympic, there were some absolute podium climbers. Salt baked celeriac sat atop truffley dollops of sour cream and was scattered with giant couscous, pomegranate & the crispiest of shallots; it was divine. Good manners kept me from hoovering up every piece of tender root but had I been there alone, I’d have unashamedly ordered a second helping.
Chilli salt sprinkled & lemon doused squid was the best I can remember having in London for a long time; crunchy, chewy, tender and served in a spring onion flecked paper cone, this was finger picky food at its finest.
Roasted beetroot with goats curd and yuzu honey was lovely and sweet not to mention prom girl pretty with translucent slices of candy beet resting under sticky pumpkin seeds…
…and cubes of sesame dusted pink tuna& candy bright watermelon nestled in a pool of juice that was tangy from pickled beetroot, yuzu & white soy. It was fresh and clean and light and I loved it.
Given that the place has only been open a month, a few teething problems aren’t a surprise and at a ratio of 75/25 brilliant to disappointing, there were a couple of dishes on the menu that either need to be bedded in & bettered over the coming months or shown the door.
Miso aubergine slices were Instagram pretty but tough in their texture and inconsistent in their flavour while a fresh looking prawn ceviche sadly lacked any of the six flavours the menu boasted it would come with.
Raspberry lemon posset was a sharply triumphant way to end the meal however, paired with light, crumbly lavender shortbread ideal for dipping & scooping. Delicately scented with floral perfume, it reassuringly brought to mind summer fields of swaying purple petals rather than your Nan’s talcum powder.
Bronte is one of London’s hot tickets for the summer and by mid evening you may find yourself dining in the bar rather than one of the tables but I don’t think you’d be disappointed. Tables are pretty close together so this might not be the spot for you if it’s a charmingly secluded dinner for two that you’re after but if it’s stunning design, superb service and a seat in one of the capital’s new restaurant darlings, you won’t be disappointed.