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William Sitwell on Charlie's, London: ‘Pure, luxurious, old-fashioned class’ 5/5The latest inc

The latest incarnation of the restaurant of Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair is a triumph for owner Rocco Forte


'A few minutes into lunch you’re softened and brushing off the trauma of overground logistics'

I may well be greeted at the gates of hell by a three-headed hound called Cerberus but at least I know what it is like to be met at the doors of heaven by Jesus.

Perhaps St Peter was having the afternoon off, it was a Sunday after all; a spot of fishing perhaps. But heaven on earth it felt like as we arrived – myself, a wife, two small children and heavy luggage – emotionally bruised by a run-in with Uber.

Maître d’ Jesus Adorno now adorns the floor of Charlie’s, the latest incarnation of the restaurant of Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair. That he has fetched up there following the closure of Le Caprice after lockdown, where he served an astonishing 39 years, is a triumph for the hotel’s owner Rocco Forte.

The hospitality industry is rammed with celebrity chefs; there are considerably fewer stellar maître d’s. In fact there are really just four of them: Jesus, Diego Masciaga (latterly of The Waterside Inn, now at Bibendum), John Davey (grand consultant/private hire) and Silvano Giraldin (officially retired from Le Gavroche but who pops up for special occasions). They share a unique gift for genuine, theatrical, warm and familiar welcome and care. As I say, I’d suffered the deliberate, mischievous and malicious torture that is the Uber app (promising cars, in two minutes, no four, no 11, no eight, no four, then just cancelling, ad infinitum).

And such is the welcome and care at Charlie’s that a few minutes into lunch you’re softened and brushing off the trauma of overground logistics.

Yes, the menu is overseen by the brilliant Adam Byatt of Clapham’s celebrated Trinity, but imagine the pleasure and relief of a besuited man happily holding your 18-month-old while you sip Champagne.