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Natural Selection? Number One Duke Street:
The company behind Number One Duke Street, Darwin & Wallace, I presume have taken their name from two great scientists, Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace who, in the mid-1800s, were independently working on the Theory of Natural Evolution. There’s something of a story – it is now claimed that Alfred Wallace was probably the first person to document natural evolution. He sent his work to Charles Darwin who passed the paper on to two eminent scientists along with his own research. And, then, Charles published his own paper, pipping Alfred to the post. What’s the logic? Well, perhaps that this is the kind of place we all select naturally. Or, an evolution that is entirely appropriate for the location? Number One Duke Street, like sister outlets 32 Old Town and Number 11, appears to have quickly become a popular local destination. It was busy when we arrived at midday on Saturday – and got busier as the lunchtime shoppers descended.
The restaurant has a small outdoor terrace set back from the street and two bar areas connected by a passage lined with comfy chairs, low tables and a blazing log fire. It’s clearly popular with local families and is well set up to accommodate everyone from cosy couples, groups of friends through to families with small kids. The menu has a short selection of dishes for ‘little people’ too.
I arrived a little early and sat by the fire waiting for my dining companion. Once she turned up we picked a Bellini each to sip while we ordered our food. It’s worth noting that although there’s an ‘All Day Brunch’ on the menu, the options are quite limited especially if you don’t like eggs. And, breakfast finishes at 11.30am. So, we decided that the best course of action was to share a Breakfast Sourdough Bruschetta and another small plate before moving on to the ‘Mains’ section.
The bruschetta turned out to be a very generous helping of bacon, tomato, spinach and avocado on two slices of toasted sourdough, all beautifully presented, though somewhat tricky to eat!
Smoked salmon, dill and lemon pate came with rye crisps. A little light on dill, it didn’t quite match the bruschetta in quality, though we both loved the melba toast like rye crisps.
Like me, my dining companion was trying to eat healthy meals. But, unlike me, she managed to pick a healthy choice from the menu – the coconut poached chicken salad. She was very impressed with the spicy salad with avocado, nashi pear, watercress and yuzu dressing. And the poached chicken was dressed with a delicious coconut dressing.
Meanwhile, I failed dismally by picking the delicious sounding No.1 House Burger with blue cheese AND a side order of fries. It was just as delicious as it looks – two patties of meat sandwiched with cheese and a tomato relish. I didn’t eat the brioche bun though I did manage somehow to finish most of the fries.
Then, the idea was that we would share a dessert.
But, ‘free from everything’ is the sort of counterintuitive dessert I refuse on principle to order. At Number One it’s a vegan meringue made with aquafaba – chickpea liquid and then served as a kind of pavlova. It looked stunning and definitely not something that belonged on a detox diet plan.
That said, I did much prefer my dark chocolate mousse with a brownie base, hazelnuts and caramel sauce. Perhaps it was a little sweeter than I’d normally choose, but delicious nonetheless.
Number One serves excellent Caravan coffee. A great way to round off an enjoyable and relaxing brunch that turned all too quickly into lunch.
No. 1 Duke Street
1a Duke Street, London, TW9 1HP