Whether visitor or local, who hasn’t ever been lost in the rabbit warren that is London and had to call upon their trusty smartphone map or A-Z? When you are next in this predicament, think of cartographers Robert Morden and Philip Lea, who were the first to map out the area, and give thanks.
Now, some 300 years after their careful plotting, the map designers have been given an appreciative nod in the form of Morden & Lea, a new brasserie-style restaurant on Wardour Street opened by Mark Sargeant, formerly head chef at Claridge’s and currently proprietor of Kent’s Rocksalt and The Smokehouse.
“Soho is the perfect location for my first central London restaurant; it will have the dual offering of a brasserie-style menu served in the upstairs restaurant with a more relaxed sharing restaurant downstairs,” says Sargeant.
The fixed-priced upstairs dinner menu (£35 per person) and set lunch menu are very much focused on British ingredients, and entrées will include roast Goosnargh duck with garlic potatoes, roast peach, broccoli, almonds and chilli; pan-fried skate wing with cauliflower, bacon and caper polonaise, and hispi cabbage; and grilled Cornish mullet with spelt, mussels and bok choy. Natural light will flood in through the glass atrium and there will be a small cocktail bar, plus a private dining room for up to eight people.
The 62-cover downstairs space will serve a varied menu from 11am “till late” from Monday to Saturday. Dishes to tempt include open tartines topped with broad bean, pea and pecorino; garlic purée, roast onion and lardo; and the classic Pissaladière (Nice’s answer to pizza). Main courses such as mackerel with red onion, capers and parsley, and salt-baked celeriac with parsley pesto will be more substantial – though perhaps most intriguing-sounding is the seafood sausage roll. A special brunch menu will be served on Sunday.
For those who prefer a liquid lunch (or dinner), cocktails will change regularly, while for beer lovers, Redchurch Pale Ale from Bethnal Green will be on tap for a truly London experience.