Originally a series of four Georgian town houses, Kettner’s was first opened as a restaurant by Auguste Kettner (chef to Napoleon III) in 1867. The maze-like interior of the Soho restaurant can feel slightly intimidating – but don’t worry, because the food is well priced, the service is friendly and unfussy, and the waiters provide plentiful eye candy!

The restaurant has recently relaunched its event space, which is perfect for traditional nuptials or civil partnerships, wedding breakfasts, rehearsal dinners or day-after brunch – and So So Gay‘s Food & Drink Editor, Adam Lowe, will be visiting soon to review their Champagne & Cocktail Bar.

In the meantime, we decided to see what the lunch was like, and invited our parents along too – treating them to a meal at a place they probably wouldn’t have even considered. Looking at their website, there is a dizzying array of menus to choose from, yet on the day, we were offered just one – a special lunch menu – to choose from. This made us happy, as we often find that with a smaller choice, you end up with a few dishes cooked really well.

You wouldn’t be far wrong if you described Kettner’s as a rare example of a restaurant serving really good English food – fish & chips, steak, chicken, salmon, duck… but we started instead with the French onion soup, which was rich and thick, with a powerful red wine flavour.

Tucked away at the bottom of the menu is a list of three different steaks, from £24.50 to £34.50, plus an extra £1.50 for sauce. Instead, we chose Dedham Vale steak with chips, which was cooked perfectly (or as perfectly as can be, given that Dad chose for it to be cooked well done, which we always think is a bit of an insult to the dead cow). We also chose duck, served with blackberry compote and a neat square of perfectly cooked and surprisingly light potato gratin. Sadly, the vegetable and gruyere cheese wellington emerged as a second duck. Rather than us all finishing our meals while we waited 12 minutes for the right dish to come out, the waiter offered to take all our food and remake it, so that everything came out together.

We decided to ignore our inner eco warrior shouting at us about food waste, and the friendly waiter took everything away, and brought us each a glass of bubbly while we waited. It was worth the wait, as the wellington was well made, and plentiful. Sadly, the duck didn’t do so well – the promised medium-rare had obviously been clinging to the pan, refusing the come out as it was all warm and snuggly in there, making it dry and difficult to eat.

Desserts looked amazing, but we had a separate date with our in-laws at a café round the corner – we only visit London to see family, then disappear as fast as the Tube will allow – so we skipped, though the options looked good enough that we’ll be back again soon.

Prices weren’t unreasonable for a treat – our meal came to about £30 each, plus wine – so while it’s at the higher end of the price range, it was definitely worth it. But they also do a £9.95 special express lunch menu with just one course, available Monday to Friday.


Kettner’s is at 29 Romilly St, London W1D 5HP. Tel: 020 7734 6112.