Tom Dixon-Designed Bronte Brings Glamour to London’s Trafalgar Square
Designed by star British designer Tom Dixon, Bronte, opened July 2016 on the corner of Trafalgar Square. It has a 1930s cruise-ship glamour, a welcome addition to this particularly tourist-trappy London hood.
It’s a classy symphony of pink mid-century-style chairs, emerald-green leather banquettes, copper accents, potted palms, and rows of globe lights. Waiters are in hipster-esque denim shirts and leather aprons. It feels buzzy, laidback and smart all at once. The food is good too, with a Wolesey-like offering of all-day dining from breakfasts of soft-boiled eggs with marmite and cheddar-cheese soldiers to Antipodean and Pacific-accented lunches and dinners under the stewardship of executive chef Andrew Lassetter.
Bronte is named after Lord Nelson, A.K.A. the Duke of Bronte, who once lived nearby, and the nautical feel and glass cases of collector’s items reference its history. The menu has ‘small plates,’ ‘salads & Bronte’ plates, and ‘the grill’. The cocktail list includes lots of fresh juices as mixers, even spinach and kale. We plumped for the goes-down-easy tropical fruitiness of the Tropic Thunder and the slightly-more-challenging Mr. Sands, which combines Tapatio Blanco, watermelon, and chilli.
Our starter, the fried squid with chilli salt and spring onion, disappeared quickly, as we dipped it into the accompanying paprika aioli, which was similar to 1000-island-dressing. The octopus salad was more of a sensation, a mix of kalamansi, charred pineapple, thai shallot, and mint, sweet against the tender seafood.
Another delight was the chicken samosa, with a light crunch of wrapping on the outside yielding to a spiced parcel combining feta and butternut squash, which we used to mop up the yogurt and pomegranate on the side.
My fellow diner is a steak man, so he went for the rib-eye with ohba leaf chimichurri sauce, a big slab of beautifully cooked meat that he pronounced extremely good quality and tender, well cooked, and even better than (Argentinian-meat-specialists) Gaucho’.
I tried the giant prawns, two truly gigantic crustaceans flatted out on the plate, cooked very simply with chilli and oil. The result is an incredible, buttery taste. Sides were nicely done too, with glossy deep-green kale given an unusual dollop of tamarind sauce, while fries were fine, if not fabulous.
For dessert, the steak man tried three flavours of sorbet. Blackberry was a subtle, unusual option, and green apple had perfect tartness, against the sweet of the mango. I tried the passionfruit brulée, which had a lovely almost-burnt crisp top. I pronounced it almost too much, but was still scraping away at my ramekin by the end.
Bronte is a welcome, convivial addition to this touristy zone, with their cruise-ship aesthetic and old-school glamour, and it’d be as good for a breakfast meeting as it would for a first date. But with meals for two clocking in at around £150 (including drinks) that’s so long as you’re prepared to splash the cash.
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