“Is this wonderful restaurant in the wrong part of town?”
The food at Morden & Lea is vibrant, bouncy, seasonal British fare. It’s well prepared, well priced and well presented. I would definitely recommend trying it out if you find yourself in the midst of the dragons and throngs of Chinatown craving a quiet moment. But that’s just the issue for Morden & Lea. No one heads to Chinatown to ‘find a quiet moment’.
Chinatown’s charm lies in its mad crazy energy and its plethora of moderately-good-but-not-amazing Chinese eateries selling the same burnished orange duck and slightly gluggy dumplings. You just don’t go to Chinatown for good, seasonal British fare.
I might be slightly misleading here as Morden & Lea isn’t bang in the middle of Gerrard Street, snuggling New Loon Moon. It’s actually on Wardour Street. But its placement sandwiches it between Lisle St and Gerrard St, where it’s hard not to be enveloped by wafts of aromatic chinese masterstocks and the mouse-poo smell of pandan icecream.
If you do find yourself hunting it out it’s easy to find and will reward you with attentive service and lovely food. It’s in a gorgeous old building which is circular at the front and painted an eye catching duck egg blue. Downstairs is a relaxed, casual eatery with a no reservations policy and upstairs is a more commodious brasserie with more substantial plates.
I’d suggest the budget-friendly option downstairs and recommend trying the heirloom carrot salad (£3) which has a bed of fabulous smooth carrot paste or the eggplant puree. Delish! The crab sausage roll is very good too. Dessert offerings are a little limited downstairs. A more comprehensive offering is available upstairs.
Owned by Mark Sargeant, (Ramsay alumni) Morden & Lea comes from good stock and if anyone can steer this oddly placed eatery in the right direction it’s him.
Incidentally, Mr Morden and Mr Lea were the first two gentlemen to map the area of Soho in the 17th century. A very cute premise upon which to name a restaurant. Ironically, their mapping was done several centuries before Chinatown London was relocated from Limehouse. O-oh.
Morden & Lea
17 Wardour Street
London W1D 6PJ
Vibe is a bit flat at the mo but fingers crossed it picks up. Food is very good.