I’ve recently discovered a secret pocket of Marylebone oozing with amazing little restaurants. It’s called Seymour Place, and I’d never heard of it until the developers got in touch to tell me about a new Italian restaurant in the area, Bernardi’s, which turned out to be so good I went twice in as many weeks.
The first occasion was actually a press preview for the whole area, held in Bernadi’s, a large, bright dining space with high ceilings and a polished, grown-up vibe. The preview featured seven courses from Seymour Place’s many restaurants, plus a sweet, smoky cocktail from The Lockhart garnished with toasted marshmallows. (I’ve since included this in my Metro Online round-up of London’s most unusual cocktails – it’s a unique combination, with no hint of the cloying creaminess that always puts me off the Piña variety.)
We began with loaves of fresh bread from Gail’s. If alone in my flat with a bowl of homemade soup I could eaten the entire board to myself, but, alas, these events call for a bit more decorum.
We also tried Jamon Croquettes (£4.00) from low-key tapas bar Donostia, which were crisp, deep-fried little bites oozing with a creamy filling…
We also tried a slice of Sandy’s famous Pasquale Paoli pizza, light of crust and gooey of cheese, draped with paper-thin ribbons of Corsican cured meat.
Of all the dishes, though, the rabbit gnocchi from Bernardi’s was my favourite. Carbs wrapped in other carbs are always a winner (see also: chip butties, arancini, salt ‘n vinegar crisp sandwiches, etc.), and well-made gnocchi is one of the cornerstones of great Italian cuisine. This one came with rabbit ragu, broad beans and lardons, which is just a less appetising word for ‘delicious little bits of bacon’. I love rabbit; it is one of those foods you don’t find on menus often enough, but wouldn’t ever consider cooking at home. This one had been roughly diced into chunks, its wild, woodsy flavour holding its own against those sassy little lardons. A full-size portion, i.e. bigger than this, costs £16.50.
It was with fond memories of Br’er Rabbit rolling around on my tongue that I tentatively suggested Bernardi’s to our vegetarian friends Andrew and Carla for an early-ish double brunch date, hoping that the non-meat options would be as good.
The brunch menu is split into three sections: pizettes, eggs and cereals, grains and fruit, the latter of which we ignored. Despite my granola revelation a couple of weeks ago, I am not about to pass up, say, Scrambled Eggs & Cornish Crab for bird food, no matter how tasty. Scrambled eggs are not usually my first choice, but they are when flecked liberally with fresh crabmeat. At £12 it’s an expensive breakfast, but the portion was large and it was nice to have a little break from old mate Eggs Benedict.
The veggies both plumped for the Courgette, Chilli & Fontina Frittata (£9.00):
Mike chose the Poached Eggs & Prosciutto on Toast (£9.00) drizzled with basil oil, a solid choice (though not, I think, as good as the crab).
The boys also ordered a pizzette each, which is Italian for ‘mini pizza so adorable nobody will notice that you’re eating pizza for breakfast’. There was a bit too much crust for my liking, but I enjoyed the concept. To the Bernardi’s kitchen crew: topping to the edge! It’s a rule to live by. (I once had a boyfriend who would always tell me how his late grandfather was a stickler for buttering toast right to the crust, and I was always sad I never got to meet him. He sounded like a man of strong principles.)
Aside from the slightly niggardly distribution of pizzette toppings, though, my brunch suggestion was a success. Seymour Place has that quiet, olde-worle feel you often find in the more expensive neighbourhoods of Central London, but it’s actually just a few minutes’ walk from Selfridges and Marble Arch tube station. Keep it in your back pocket if you’re stuck in Oxford Street shopping hell and need an emergency oasis for a bite or a bevvy. Or possibly some rabbit.
Bernardi’s, 62 Seymour St, London W1H 5BN
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.