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Test Driving the new Carousel wine bar - the residency restaurant's permanent Fitzrovia home

roomThe new-look Carousel

What do I need to know about Carousel?

Carousel was a hit in its original Marylebone location over the past few years. They concentrated on being a venue where chefs from all over the world could pop-up for residencies, some of whom would go on to launch restaurants they trialled there (like Kol by Santiago Lastra). This sees them moving from the original Marylebone location to a prime Charlotte Street spot. 

Where exactly are they now?

Right in the heart of Fitzrovia on Charlotte Street. If you remember where the old Wahaca was, they've taken over that space next door to the Charlotte Street Hotel.

roomAnd this is the brand new wine bar, at the front of the building.

And what's new at this location?

The new building is something of a warren. Upstairs there are a number of private rooms that they're hiring out for private dinners and special events. At the back of the building on the ground floor is the main restaurant where you'll find the latest residency that they're showcasing. To the right of the building is a small space that will be hosting smaller pop-ups and startups (kicking off with Goila Butter Chicken early in 2022). 

And then, at the front of the building, is the space that we went in to look at - their new wine bar.  

So this isn't a pop-up? 

It is not. This is Carousel's first-ever permanent bar and restaurant, with a brand new menu by Ollie Templeton (one of the Carousel founders along with his brother Ed). The menu is a selection of small and medium plates which, as they say, takes inspiration from "pretty much everywhere”. As a result, it's a menu that reads very well and looks like it changes regularly (it was already quite different when we went in from what was on their website). 

Here's a taster of what to expect (spoiler - it was all very good indeed):

roomSalami, comté and celeriac remoulade (£9) - a perfect choice to order immediately while checking out the rest of the menu.

roomSweet and sour onion cracker with corra linn cheese (£6.50) - an umami bomb to kick everything off.

roomTempura maitake, mushroom broth, green mandarin (£9) - lift off the plate and you'll find the broth below for dipping the tempura into. There was a lot of work put into this dish (it's a two day process) and it gives off the most incredible aroma as a result. 

roomIberico tomato, black garlic, thyme (£9) - all the garlic sauce is hidden underneath these tomatoes

roomFried chicken, habanero, honey (£7.50) - top-notch fried chicken

roomDelica pumpkin, burrata, sage, black trumpet (£11.50) - our star dish of the evening with a riot of textures. 

roomBavette, hazelnut, watercress, smoked tomato, Jerusalem artichoke (£18) - note that the Jerusalem artichoke crisps normally come on the main dish but one of us has an intolerance hence this different plating.

roomDeep-fried apple pie, lemon thyme, caramel ice cream (£7.50) - extremely thin pastry that crumbles as you attack the dessert. 

And, being a wine bar, the list should be pretty good? 

There are cocktails, but we didn't feel they were really this bar's strong point, so the wine list is really where it's all at. They describe their list as focusing on "characterful wines from independent winemakers". Entry level is £7 for a glass and it goes to around £70 with lots under the £50 mark. We'd definitely recommend asking for direction. We fancied a Melon de Bourgogne and there's two on the list, one quite 'natural' in approach, the other more classic, so the advice helped us choose a really amazing bottle from Domaine de la Sénéchalière for £50. 

 

roomThis is the main restaurant at the back and where the residency will be. 

And the residencies continue?

Absolutely. The list of chefs changes every month and they always have something genuinely interesting lined up. Coming up in January will be Julie Caute from Paris wine bar Dame Jane and look out for Pablo Lagrange from LA TEXTIL in Barcelona (this will be his third appearance at Carousel) and Mathieu Rostaing-Tayard who won the 2021 ‘Fooding d’Honneur’ from Le Fooding. 

Overall thoughts

Carousel already had a strong reputation for hosting quality residencies, so a permanent attraction from them was always going to be a bit of a change and we were curious to see how it turned out. Luckily, the food on offer is uniformly excellent and, paired with a great wine list,  their new wine bar is a very easy recommendation for a night out in Fitzrovia.  

 

More about Carousel Fitzrovia

Where is it? 19-23 Charlotte St, London W1T 1RL

How to book: Book online

Find out moreVisit their website or follow them on Instagram @carousel_ldn.

Hot Dinners ate as guests of Carousel. Prices are correct at the time of writing. 

 

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