If this restaurant were a character in a movie or a book, it’d be that perfectly coiffed heroine everybody admires. She’s elegant and stylish, but remarkably down to earth. She’s comfortable to talk to, with a worldly outlook that never verges on snootiness. Her tastes can be upmarket—the finest oysters, a perfectly grilled lobster, foie gras paired with pickled cherries—but she also knows the joy of a simple plate of pasta and the golden-brown crunch of a flawless Wiener schnitzel. She’ll have croissants and hot coffee for breakfast one day, a heaping stack of American pancakes the next.
The Continental is a restaurant that has captured our hearts because, above all, it’s honest and comfortable. The light-filled space, so beautifully updated by David Collins Studio (the team behind London stalwarts The Wolseley and The Delaunay), blends brasserie elegance with art deco design details. The viridian-green colour scheme is an immediate classic, a welcoming shade that’s classical yet contemporary. Enconscing ourselves in one of the high-backed banquettes at the end of a long day, ready to be plied with impeccably cooked continental favourites, is truly one of life’s pleasures.
While there are so many reasons to come to this beautiful brasserie—breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, drinks or dinner—we do have our favourites on the menu: the fish soup with croutons and rouille, tasting so intensely like a sun-dappled afternoon in the French Riviera; a plucky salad Niçoise that favours ripe slices of tomatoes over those hardy wedges; griddled scallops that are unusually paired with chestnut purée, shiso and lemon for a left-field main course. Then there’s the beauty of a ruby-red hanger steak, charred on a blisteringly hot Josper grill, arriving with a silver pail of hot, crisp frites and an agonisingly decadent Béarnaise sauce—the tangle of peppery watercress is our concession to healthiness. The pasta, too, would be worthy of an Italian Hall of Fame, such as the shortrib conchiglioni, with a flurry of zesty gremolata bringing pops of sunshine to the buttery, fork-tender shreds of juicy beef.
All of the above would be worthless if The Continental didn’t also boast a front-of-house team that expertly attends to guests with that special blend of professionalism and warmth—the kind of bonhomie that will inevitably convince you to order dessert even when you’re stuffed to the brim. (To be fair, the laudable sweets trolley also does much to facilitate this.)
Without a doubt, The Continental will continue to be our regular haunt for years to come—indeed, if this restaurant were a person, it would be our best friend for life.