Sunday Lunch. Dinner. Afternoon Tea. Drinks and snacks. I’ve done them all at Brown’s Hotel, Albemarle Street, London. Both walking and wheeling.
Brown’s is in a hugely convenient location for so many things. The Royal Academy is round the corner. Old and New Bond Street. Art Galleries. Piccadilly. Green Park. An easy central location; a walk, bus or cab’s ride from theatre’s, the West End, Knightsbridge. And so on. Meeting up. You get my drift.
Atmospherically, it’s a charming place, never trendy, just quiet, comfortable and easy. Great for a relaxing meal or drinks, with or without friends, should you be in the area.
Last Sunday, Spring being in the air, me and D popped across for lunch at the newly opened Beck at Brown’s, which has replaced Hix, the former main restaurant of some years standing. Beck is offering an Italian menu and, as we don’t really have a go-to favourite Italian right now, we entered with hope.
Upfront, I’ll say that access at the main door is not perfect. There’s a step. Not huge step but, for a power wheelchair, you’ll need to use their ramp.
In the first image below, on the left [the closed doors] is the new entrance to Beck and the doorman got out a sparkly new-looking pair of telescopic ramps (image 2 below). My heart sank. Two fiddly telescopic ramps and a power wheelchair: not a happy combination.
I do not have good height clearance under my wheels where my battery pack is centrally situated along with the lock-in mechanism for safe car travel. Plus these ramps are very narrow for my front wheels. And, the pavement, whilst wide enough, was not so deep that I was comfortable ‘experimenting’ with how best to do this. And, ‘experimenting’ when all I want to do is have a nice lunch does not put me in my personal happy place.
Luckily, before I got my grump right on as we explained the problem, the doorman whipped out their old ramp – a perfectly aligned, wooden, wide ramp to the door on the right, below – which I’d used previously and sailed up again. Crisis averted. Lunch was back on.
Before continuing though, I’ve Just got to say: I do wish more of the Access advisors that people/hotels/businesses/the government use would consider more than just self-propelling chairs in their thinking when advising on wheelchair access or even, you know, get one or two of us, in different types of chairs, to try these things out. It’s not rocket science and there’s usually a ramp to suit all of us available for relatively little money and effort. With more thought early on, it would all be so much easier.
If I were giving the advice, I’d apply the business acronym: KISS – keep it simple, stupid. For a ramp, that’s wide, sturdy, minimal moving parts and unbreakable. Sighs, and moves on.
Once inside, it’s all easy wheeling on the level with ample space and helpful staff ushering the way.
New incarnation of restaurant: new decor. See image 3 below. The wood panelling remains but the rest … Botanical florals, I think they call it. A big change from the modernism of Hix’s Tracey Emin. I liked it well enough. It’s very plush and comfortable just like Brown’s.
The tables have a central post but are wide enough that it’s possible to position your legs to the side if need be (I do need to do this) and it’s a nice restaurant space – airy, cool, big windows, good table spacing. We like it a lot.
The staff and service were great. The food?
We were there on the last day of their ‘soft’ opening so glitches were being ironed out, routines tested and it did feel a little ‘nervy’. And, our first choice for food – roast lamb – was all gone. Nonetheless, we struggled on!
I had some lovely scallops. D enjoyed his lobster tagliolini and both of us loved the tiramisu, last image below. Other courses – D’s burrata, my sea bass – were okay, totally edible, but, at the full prices charged, you’d expect more excellence, I think. For the soft opening, food prices were discounted, allowing for the new opening glitches and, knowing this, we rolled with it. As the kitchen gets into its’ groove and up to speed, I’m sure that will lift the quality of everything a level.
It will need to. This is not an inexpensive restaurant and there’s stiff competition nearby (for example, Helene Darroze and Jean-Georges at the Connaught – both charge high and deliver high quality).
i wish all the staff at Beck well with their opening week, this week, and I shall be reading the critics reviews with interest and fingers crossed for them.
Not up there on my favourites list from this visit but I shall look forward to dropping by again some time soon … hoping to find my Italian-happy-place.