What: A New York Italian restaurant and bar located on Mayfair’s Dover Street that was once home to the much-missed American brasserie Automat and more recently neighbourhood restaurant Moncks.
Who: The Dover is the first solo project from former Soho House group CEO Martin Kuczmarski - or MK to his friends. He’s recruited Valentino Pepe, who trained with Alan Yau and Gennaro Vitto, as the restaurant’s head chef with Tobias Smithson, who has previously worked with Mark Hix and also with Kuczmarski at The Ned, as general manager.
The food: Italian dishes with a New York attitude is how the food offer is described, with The Dover serving the kind of food you’d find in a mom and pop Brooklyn Italian restaurant, albeit through a Mayfair lens. The menu kicks off with a range of snacks, the highlights of which are a New York style pig in blanket - a pastry wrapped sausage dappled with mustard and ketchup; crispy potato cakes with caviar; and zucchini and asparagus fritti with lemon, aioli and jalapenos. For starters options include a Tuscan minestrone; and beef steak tartare as well as a prawn cocktail done in the New York style accompanied by a tomato and horseradish sauce. Salads gets its own section, with a choice of Caesar; green avocado; and chopped; as does pasta, with options including a hearty serving of spaghetti meatballs; hot penne arrabbiata; and lobster ravioli. Main dishes are meaty specimens such as chicken cordon bleu with a pizzaiola sauce; Italian sausage pie; branzino fillets; and, of course, a dover sole while a side of fries comes served in a branded cardboard container that is shaped liked the old style McDonald’s packaging before the fast food giant remodelled them to better reflect its arches logo.
To drink: Martini lovers will find themselves well catered for with seven options available that include classics such as the Vesper, Gibson, and Hot & Dirty, as well as pick-me-up The Dover, made with Konik’s Tail vodka, Cocchi vermouth and orange bitter; and the chill-me-out Sleepy Pony that comprises Konick’s Tail with limoncello, chamomile, mint and CBD oil. If martinis are not your thing then there’s plenty of other options on the impressive cocktail list that is a who’s who of the classics. The wine list is tight and to the point and heads northwards at quite a lick, with only three bottles of white under £60 and eight of the 22 whites surpassing the £100 mark, while the red selection is more accessible with five options under £60 but 12 of the reds priced at £100 or more. But then this is Mayfair, darling.
The vibe: Kuczmarski’s eye for detail acquired while working alongside Nick Jones at Soho House for over a decade is what really sets The Dover apart from some of its Mayfair counterparts. Milanese designer Quincoces & Drago has used the restaurant’s challenging space to its advantage with the narrow entrance and bar area used as a focal point on entrance once the red velvet curtain is drawn back. The bar also features a number of booths for dining before the space opens up into a well proportioned dining room to the rear of the building. The space has echoes of art deco throughout with curved American Walnut panelling that give the dining room an Orient Express feel, Murano lighting, and a black and white marble chequered floor, and deep blue velvet seating. Tables are lit by candlelight, creating an intimate, convivial space that suits its design.
And another thing: The restaurant takes its music seriously and has a vinyl record player and Kuczmarski’s personal collection of classic soul, funk and disco records.