Walking into Percy and Founders, which is wedged under a massive new block of apartments that probably cost a squillion pounds each, I thought I’d accidentally stumbled upon a new branch of those upmarket Wetherspoons you sometimes find in London. You know, the ones that pretend like they’re not in any way affiliated with early-rising alcoholics or the shittest hen parties of all time.The blackboard outside bears the dreaded words ‘all-day British menu’, and the inside is absolutely gigantic. Cavernous, even, and filled to the rafters with birdcages and other generically trendy miscellanea. Turns out it used to be a hospital, but in a city where the hottest restaurants are barely big enough to swing a French bulldog in, it’s a little disarming.
That said, when you’ve gotten over the shock of having somewhere to put your handbag, it’s actually quite nice. It’s both posh and pubby, without venturing into ‘gastropub’ territory. For instance, there is a beautiful Dave White original hung downstairs opposite the ladies’ lavs, but there’s also pie.
Excellent pie, as it turned out: the shepherd’s kind, generously endowed with meaty chunks of venison instead of the ordinary beef, stewed in a rich gravy and topped with mash. It’s the kind of food that Enid Blyton would describe as ‘hearty’, right down to the side of glazed carrots. (If you must have extra carbs, the truffle and Parmesan fries are priced the same as the plain ones at £4/portion.)
My pie was preceded by a flavoursome and filling Potted Rabbit with Crab Apple Jelly and Toast (I’m on the game hard this season), though my dinner date’s Cornish Crab, Brown Butter & Ginger Jam (£11.50) was underwhelming for the price, and came topped with some bizarre barley crackers that tasted like peanut brittle. Wasn’t keen.
ourselves things off with a plate of ‘Percy’s Mistresses’ (the eponymous Percy once shacked up with a bird called Madeleine, apparently.). Three scarab-shaped little sponges, warm from the oven, very light and easy-to-eat, accompanied by maple butter.
The all-knowing internet seems torn on P&F: critics are unanimously repulsed, but the hoi-polloi of Google Reviews and co. are keen. I’m somewhere in between; no, it isn’t a fine dining experience, but then it doesn’t claim to be. Its strengths lie in well-executed stodge with an upmarket twist (although, alas, prices to match. Everything could do with being a good 15% cheaper.) The selection of beers and wine are decent, though at nearly a fiver a pint I don’t think anyone will be hanging around to get fucked. The cheapest glass of wine is an absurd £7.50, based on two sharing a 500ml carafe, or £4.50 for a child-sized 175ml.
Percy & Founders is the kind of place you’d go for a casual drink, after work or before dinner elsewhere, though potentially a bite to eat too if you can’t be bothered to leave the building for solids. The menu reads as a little schizophrenic but that’s fine, P&F isn’t a destination restaurant so if you find yourself ordering some grub here there really is something for everyone, from the Roasted Cauliflower, Smoked Egg yolk and Truffle Dressing to the Chicken Sausage Roll.
It’s not a bad place to end up after a day at the sales on Oxford Street, especially as they’re offering 25% off food between now and 10th January 2016 via Hot Dinners. Go hungry and stodge up.
Percy & Founders, 1 Pearson Square, London W1T 3BF
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.