The Oriel was one of the first, chic French-style brasseries in London, and had survived many onslaughts over its existence, but couldn’t survive yet another steep rate increase. So the formidable pair that is Chris Corbin and Jeremy King had stepped in, much to everyone’s delight. At least they would do something stylish. And they did indeed; the place is alive with Art Deco chandeliers, darling floor tiles, fin de siècle pictures, and prints. And yet, there is little atmosphere, just noise sadly.
The tables are so close to each other, the current London curse (you actually can not get out of your seat without a great deal of kerfuffle). The waiters swish around without taking any notice of the customers, which is very unusual for the formidable duo.
And the food, while tasty, is very expensive for a brasserie, and does this area really need another expensive dining room? Main courses under £15 are rare, and veg is extra, so there's little chance you'll get out for less than £30 per person. Yes, you can have a snack, but who wants to eat a croque monsieur or a salad in a chic French brasserie in winter?
The Oriel was a neighbourhood place, where people going to the Royal Court had a pre-show supper, or a post-show dinner, or just a drink and a long talk. This is not the place for any of that. Let’s hope it's early days yet and Corbin/King will reconsider the pricing.
The decor is great, obviously. They are aiming at doing for the French grand salon what they did to Viennese eating at the Wolseley. But without the real atmosphere of people enjoying themselves and not screeching to be heard, it will be tedious. This room hasn’t the capacity of the grand old Wolseley, and though broken up cleverly into smaller spaces, it's simply too loud.
If you want to live it up a little, you can always go to smart and welcoming bar. But for now, stop there.