Caprice Holdings. Until very recently I'd never found a restaurant I liked more than The Ivy; the place which stole its place in my heart, though only by a very narrow margin, was its stable-mate Dean Street Townhouse. There's nowhere in town I trust more to look after my precious mother than J. Sheekey, and I return time and time (and time) again for gossipy, glamorous nights at Rivington Grill. My affection for the company was further cemented last year by their generous support of an event I organised for my beloved Crusaid.
You can imagine then that I was rather excited to hear that the group has opened its first retail outlet in the form of The Mount Street Deli, just opposite another of the jewels in its crown, Scott's. I was asked along as a guest, on the second day of opening, to sample some of the products on offer, and from what I saw (and tasted), Caprice have another hit on their hands.
For the uninitiated, Mount Street is a very elegant thoroughfare (albeit currently blighted by seemingly incessant roadworks) running from Park Lane to Grosvenor Square. Always popular with the extremely well-heeled residents of Mayfair for its galleries, restaurants and specialist shops - gunmaker Purdey occupies a corner plot across from haute china supplier Thomas Goode - in recent years Mount Street has become synonymous with luxury fashion and is now home to many of London's highest-end boutiques, attracting wealthy local and international shoppers. The Mount Street Deli brings something genuinely new and completely suited to the mix - a delicatessen-cum-cafe stocking produce of sufficiently impeccable quality as to appeal to the street's very discerning clientele.
restaurants. The take-away selection is focused on the ne plus ultra of ready meals; dishes prepared in the kitchens of and usually only served in the members-only environs of the private clubs in the Birley Group, itself now a part of Caprice. There's also a lovingly sourced and carefully edited selection of preserves, chutneys, breads and confectionery ideal for giving as gifts or impressing dinner party guests.
From the cold counter I tried a variety of treats including plump, nutty jewelled cous cous, a few slices of silky salami and moreish mortadella, a mighty fine sausage roll (which I'll admit I would have preferred hot) and some lovely plump, briny olives which would have been perfect had they come wrapped in a vodka Martini. The hot dish of the day was a boldly savoury beef hot pot of which every spoonful spoke of slow, patient stewing, stirring and seasoning. A selection plate from the afternoon tea and puddings menu enabled me to sample the Deli's carrot cake, chocolate brownie and millionaire's shortbread out of which not just the latter will delight the area's super-rich.
The faultlessly enthusiastic manager Hannah Gutteridge is very proud of her coffee and an accompanying latte was excellent. What I really would have liked was a glass of wine; alas for the time being at least The Mount Street Deli is unlicensed meaning one can only browse and possibly take away the interesting and very reasonably priced wines on offer (a 1997 Pauillac at £75 caught my dipsomaniac eye). Although that remained on the shelf, I did leave with an armful of some of the quirkier goodies from the deli section including a star anise and pink peppercorn mustard from Henshelwoods and some addictive chocolate lime biscuits from Island Bakery Organics.
Overall, I liked The Mount Street Deli as much as I like its sister restaurants and bars and will definitely be back both to eat in - especially when the veal ravioli from Daphne's is on the menu - and to pick up some of what must be the poshest ready meals in London. The ultimate seal of approval however comes not from me but from the wonderful, elegant American lady who struck up conversation with me over coffee. Lucky (and, clearly, wealthy) enough to live 'just over the road' from The Mount Street Deli, she had already taken home dinner from it on day one and was now back on day two for coffee, a bite to eat and to meet her equally elegant husband. That the locals have taken the place so enthusiastically to their hearts before the paint is barely dry is a sure sign that Caprice Holdings have, yet again, got it absolutely right.
The Mount Street Deli, 100 Mount Street, London W1K 2TG Tel: 020 7499 6843 http://www.themountstreetdeli.co.uk/