24 Savile Row

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Exterior shot of 24 Savile Row

Most
Civilised

Bellamy’s

Gavin Rankin, patron of Tatler Magazine’s Most Civilised Restaurant, has been an intrinsic part of luxurious food purveyance in Mayfair since 1982, when he was one of only ten accredited caviar wholesalers in the world. Five years later, he set up Caviar Kaspia at 18/18a Bruton Place.

Exterior

In 1992 he moved into Berkeley Square to work for the legendary arbiter of taste, Mark Birley, as Managing Director of Annabel’s, Mark’s Club, Harry’s Bar, George and the Bath & Racquets Club. In 2004 he reclaimed his original site and created Bellamy’s. He explains why it’s known as ‘the club without a sub’.

When I established Bellamy’s as a bar, oyster bar and restaurant drawn from the great Franco-Belgian brasserie tradition, I followed Mark Birley’s advice. He said there’s no point frightening people with fancy ‘franglais’, so Bellamy’s is named after the club in Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour trilogy of novels. That reassures our English customers, and I spotted a happy pun with the title Bel Ami (subtitle, The History of a Scoundrel), the novel by Guy de Maupassant, which amuses our French diners.

Exterior

We are one of the last independents in Mayfair and customers are very much supporters. Eighty per cent are regulars, several since day one, and they don’t stroll far from their office, homes or hotels to reach us. We have art dealers, lawyers, CEOs, financiers, property specialists, Hollywood actors, dowagers, the young and the toff-erati. The new bar is very popular: from 5pm Tomas, the 6ft 8in barman, mixes a variety of cocktails including his trademark mean Martini.

I like to encourage clubbish bonhomie with an occasional newsletter. Even in August, when tout le monde is in Tuscany or Martha’s Vineyard or stalking in Scotland, our innovatory week-long cabaret package – a bellini, three-course dinner, half bottle of wine and cabaret for £65 – ensured a full house with City Titans staging takeover bids for the piano stool as the mood took off.

This room makes me feel alive. It’s unusual to find le patron mange ici, but I am here all the time. At lunchtime people want their food to come pretty quickly and not to be bothered too much. I might say ‘hello’ if there’s eye contact and nod goodbye at the door; at dinner, people like me to approach and indulge in a chat. They appreciate the savvy, ‘anticipatory’ service led by Luigi, the manager, and his cohort Sergio – who both came from Annabel’s. Glasses are refilled invisibly, fallen napkins replaced within seconds, finger bowls brought without asking. If an arm goes up, we’ve failed.

Timeless style

Mayfair demands high standards and people are kind enough to say Bellamy’s hits culinary perfect pitch, right through to the Galaxy chocolate Minstrels that come with your espresso or macchiato. Dishes range from Whitebait, Croquettes Parmentières and Crab Salad, through to classics such as Steak Tartare and Fruits de Mer Provençale. Staples such as Rillettes of Duck, Salad of Artichoke Heart and Haricots Verts, Fillets of Dover Sole and Sliced Entrecôte of Beef are always on the menu. You must try the Smoked Eel Mousse! The wine list is unapologetically and exclusively French.

We are one of only two private restaurants in which The Queen has dined since her coronation. The staff were thrilled with the honour of serving her. A photograph hung on the wall in the bar shows her thanking the line-up as she left a private dinner held here by a close friend. And the other restaurant entrusted with her presence? Caviar Kaspia."

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