The Potting Shed restaurant
39 Dorset Square, Marylebone, London NW1 6QN
This renovated restaurant plays on its connection to cricket, but it’s the dishes that are raising the game.
Spring is a good time to pay a visit to this pretty little restaurant. It’s tucked in the lower-ground floor of Dorset Square Hotel, an of-its-time Regency townhouse that’s been brought bang up to date with a recent refurbishment by owner and design director Kit Kemp. It’s a little-known fact that the private garden here was the site of Thomas Lord’s first cricket ground – impress an MCC member with that little nugget when you get the chance.
Inside, the hotel makes a play on this sporting heritage, as you’ll be bowled over (sorry) by an eclectic collection of cricket memorabilia. However, Kemp’s inimitable modern English style makes sure it doesn’t overwhelm excessively. It’s a tricky task melding cricket bats with exposed lighting and starkly lined furniture.
Any springtime supper here should begin on the lawn, cocktail in hand. Try a Silly Mid-Wicket, which fuses gin, rhubarb liquor, grapefruit juice and basil to beautiful effect. The restaurant is open all day and serves traditional British plates with contemporary twists. To start, tiger prawn cocktail is a glorious incarnation of the Seventies dinner party classic, thanks to its generous mix of lobster, crab, prawn and avocado with a sauce so full of zing it would blow the petticoat straight off Marie Rose. Melba toast, smoked salmon and caper berries would equally impress anyone familiar with the Abigail’s Party scene, while pear and endive salad with Stilton and walnuts is a tasty match of which Delia herself would be proud.
For mains, pan-fried pollock on a bed of vegetables is well paired with crisped-up roast potatoes, while a delicate fillet of bream with asparagus and purple sprouting broccoli in shellfish bisque is excellent. Desserts maintain the traditional tone. Bread and butter pudding and treacle tart will not disappoint, though, for us, the strawberry mille feuille was a lighter, straight-batted choice.
Overall, the restaurant scores well. The theming is at times overblown: slightly too many flowerpots and garden utensils playing on the restaurant’s name, and maybe just a few too many cricket bats, though neither will leave you stumped. It’s got too much going for it for that.