Sitting inside London’s most venerable seafood restaurant, Scott’s, you can see why it’s where the great and the good come to dine. The art deco-inspired opulence recaptures the 1950s glamour that attracted the likes of Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin.
Ask the general manager, Kevin Lansdown, about who dines here today and he is famously tight lipped; “We don’t divulge any stories about our customers,” he says. Although, you only have to flick through the glossy magazines and gossip columns to see that people from all walks of life enjoy coming here. King of football and queen of fashion, David and Victoria Beckham rub shoulders with Prince William and Prince Harry; Sting & Trudy Tyler and Bill Clinton are all fans.
It was here at Scott’s that Ian Fleming, author of James Bond, learnt that a martini should be “shaken, not stirred”. Landsdown says; “The fact that Ian Fleming discovered the martini “shaken not stirred” at Scott’s is one that we’re very proud of and the mention of Scott’s in Steve McQueen’s The Great Escape is also a feather in the cap of Scott’s history.”
Scott’s is considered to be the second oldest restaurant in London. It originally started life as an oyster warehouse in Haymarket in 1851. Opened by a young fishmonger, John Scott, it rapidly gained its reputation as one of London’s finest seafood eateries. In 1968 it relocated to its current home in Mount Street, Mayfair.
“The Mount Street location is a very special one,” says Lansdown. “The Queen Anne style red brick architecture is truly astonishing, and the street, having been built in the early 1700s, is home to many luxury brands, art galleries and our own Mount Street Deli,” he says.
Scott’s underwent an extensive multi-million pound refurbishment in 2006 after being bought by Richard Caring’s Caprice Holdings. With the famous interior designer and architect, Martin Brudnizki, at the helm Scott’s was restored to its former glory.
Undoubtedly the restaurant’s show-stopping centrepiece is the marble crustacea bar (designed by Future Designs) in the front room that is stocked with crab, lobster, market fish, oysters and razor clams. The bar itself with a jade-coloured marble top and copper lamps is a great place to sit and sup oysters, sip champagne and people watch.
Adorning the walls are pieces of art from modern British greats like Damien Hirst, Gary Hume, Martin Creed, Michael Landy and Tracey Emin – picked to complement the distinctive 1950s style interior. “Many of the artists use Scott’s on a regular basis, so we feel not only like we’re enjoying the art, but we’re able to enjoy the artists as well,” says Lansdown.
The menu stays true to its seafood heritage –classics such as Dover sole and dressed crab take a starring role. But the head chef, Dave McCarthy, keeps his menus seasonal and in keeping with current desires and tastes. “Gone are the days where heavy French-influenced creamy sources are du jour – people seem to be much more health conscious now,” Lansdown says. “Although we still have Lobster Thermidor on the menu, one of our most popular dishes is roasted cod with mixed beans, chorizo and pardon peppers.” Despite being a specialist fish and seafood restaurant it’s not uncommon to find seasonal game, Bannockburn beef and British lamb on the menu.
For some Scott’s is a once in a lifetime special dining experience. For others it’s the third business lunch that week. But everyone is made to feel equally special when they eat here. “The feedback we get from customers time and time again is that they feel very special when they dine at Scott’s – not just because of the seasonal food and carefully selected wine list, but also because they are made to feel welcome and they consider the service to be second to none,” says Lansdown.
To book a table at Scott’s call 020 7495 7309. www.scotts-restaurant.com. The restaurant is open all day from 12 noon.
Juliet Stott is an ex Guardian journalist who writes on luxury travel and social media.