Randall & Aubin celebrates 25th birthday with a limited-edition fish dish and timeless charm
Randall & Aubin has achieved something that can never be underestimated in the streets of Soho: longevity. This much-loved spot has now been serving customers for 25 years, and given that even pre-Covid this area was turning over restaurants like tables, that’s something worth celebrating. The quarter-century milestone is testament to the popularity not just of the food – this Anglo-French brasserie had a reputation for serving up sustainably sourced fish and seasonal local produce long before it became a benchmark – but also the people who work there. It’s a place that held its ground during gentrification, retaining its regulars but also luring in new customers with a timeless charm that reminds us what we have lost.
The venue itself isn’t quite what you’d expect. Yes, there are the classic elements: the chalkboards, the white tiles, chandeliers and framed menus on the walls. There are even features dating back over a century, like meat hooks preserved from the building’s previous stint as a butcher’s shop, along with marble counters and the original sign (the restaurant is still named after the two butchers who founded the company back in 1911). But then there are the additional touches which suggest the more unique signature of its co-owners, the charismatic Jamie Poulton and Head Chef Ed Baines. Namely, the whopping great disco ball that hangs in the middle of the room. As we join the anniversary dinner, the spinning orb makes it feel a though the party has really started. That, and a popping magnum of Taittinger Prélude Grands Crus champagne (suited in a specially designed limited-edition label by acclaimed British artist John Yeo).
Tonight we are treated to some of the signatures, starting, naturally, with a fruits de mer platter, complete with oysters, crab, pink prawns, mussels, cockles, seared tuna and whelks. The oysters taste as if they’ve been freshly plucked from the ocean, but for me the highlights have to be the flavoursome tuna and the crab – which, though so fresh it requires a fairly fiddly de-shelling process, is worth every effort. If you’re not so familiar with shellfish, this is a good place to start: it’s hard to embarrass yourself when the service have such a good sense of humour.
The main course on this occasion is a special edition dish which has been crafted for the milestone: Grilled Turbot, served with crispy Parisienne potatoes, buttered garden vegetables and a champagne velouté sauce. The fish is cooked as expertly as you would expect with 25+ years of experience, and actually makes me wonder why, considering this restaurant has been here almost my entire life, it’s my first visit.
The last dish to grace the table is my idea of heaven: a chocolate delice drizzled with salted caramel sauce and chaperoned by a perfect orb of milk ice cream. It’s a lovely finish which hammers home the main point of the evening: you can’t beat the classics.
Randall & Aubin is exactly what every needs in a year so tumultuous: it’s consistency, comfort and class. Pop along and try out their limited-edition plate – if like me, you’ve left it 25 years, I suggest you don’t wait any longer.
Photos: Matthew Pull
To book a table at Randall & Aubin, 16 Brewer Street London W1F 0SQ, call 020 7287 4447 or visit their website here.