Two London papers have this week profiled Bellamy’s restaurant on Bruton Place in Mayfair:
Ben McCormack in the Daily Telegraph on Monday (15 April) begins by making a meal (if you will excuse the expression) of the two visits by the Queen since the restaurant opened in 2004. He then tries to make his way through her menu choices but deviates after caviar and smoked eel mousse, substituting steak and frites for his main. He was persuaded against selection of her choice of Dover sole for his main by the plain looking example served with oil and lemon to an nearby table. The restaurant offers what McCormack calls “approachable exclusivity” and is described by its owners as “a club without a sub”. In his conclusion, he explains that “Bellamy’s name is a homage to the gentleman’s club in Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour trilogy but also a pun on ‘bel ami’ French for ‘handsome friend.’. McCormack describes the restaurant as inspired as much by Parisian brasseries as London members’ clubs.
Later in the week, Tanya Gold described her meal at Bellamy’s eaten for The Spectator, possibly on the same night McCormack made his visit (Gold was there on a wet Tuesday). She goes into a bit more detail about the Waugh connection:
Bellamy’s is named for the club in Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour trilogy. That was probably its first mistake if it wants a large clientele now: the pool of Waugh-lovers fascinated by the decline of the aristocracy — a trend that has stalled, if it ever existed, which should give them comfort — has shrunk through heart attack, death and, likely, exile. The survivors call Bellamy’s ‘a club without a sub[scription]’. That is probably its second mistake. The name is also a pun on Guy de Maupassant’s Bel Ami, a novel about journalism. It is not my kind of journalism, or novel. Novels about journalism are usually as awful as novels by journalists. It is obviously designed for an older generation of British aristocrats during their mythical decline.
After rather exhausting the topic of the Queen’s association with the restaurant in a detailed comparison between its decor and that of the only room of Balmoral Castle open to the public, Gold concludes:
It may be the ideal restaurant of the mythical Spectator reader. It is less expensive than Wilton’s and less gaudy than Rules. It is, as Franco-Belgian brasseries in London go, perfect. The food is superb. […]
Both reporters mention a three-course prix fixe menu available for £29.50. I checked the menu on the internet and, indeed, what looks like a bargain for central London is available at both lunch and dinner. Alas, it does not stretch to the Queen’s selections, but those are available on the regular a la carte menu at what also seem reasonable prices for this location.