A la Colthard
This Austrian style konditorei and part of the Wolseley group meets the high standards of service and food that the owners consistently deliver. Situated at the Regent’s Park end of Marylebone High Street where competition is fierce with the Orrery a few doors down it has a great location. The clock and photographs attest to an attention to detail to recreate a Viennese style cafe. I ordered a mixed selection of herrings and veal Holstein, Wiener Schnitzel with a topping of a fried egg and anchovy. My companion Sebastian, a dishy art dealer, had the herrings and a plain Wiener Schnitzel and this passed his exacting standards. I was particularly impressed by a hard working head waitress as she hopped from table to table. When I asked for single glass of wine she read my mind and suggested my Austrian favourite a gruner veltner. The restaurant has a buzz, we recognised various actors , but not so loud that you cannot hear. Not cheap at 60 GBP per head but I didn’t feel shortchanged .
This was something of an institution when I first commenced my dining life. Old Ma Sheekey they called its owner. It was beloved by fashionable by London sportsmen like Henry Cooper and Johnny Haynes. He was once there for an extended lunch with Bobby Keetch which accounted for a defeat of Fulham by Colchester!!
Like many a fashionable fish restaurant the comfort levels are not what they might be. The Colthard hips, admittedly not as slim as in my youth, were rather tightly squeezed into a corner table by the serving area from the kitchen. The proximity of tables led to an intrusive conversation from the couple at the next one. Not the place for a discreet affair!!! My fish pie had too much mash and not enough fish. I sometimes wonder with this dish whether it is a convenient destination for bits of fish unordered. The oysters were good but not to the level of the Boccacio in Nice.
Perhaps the day of the gentleman ‘s fish restaurant where Lord Muck has his special table and varieties of sole proffered by an ingratiating head waiter is over. Scotts and Sheekeys are more representative of contemporary London and welcoming to us ladies who lunch!!!