A stone’s throw from the designer juggernauts in Mayfair is Charlie’s in the grand Brown’s Hotel, one of the jewels of the Rocco Forte empire. A retreat for royalty and presidents since 1837, Jesus Adorno joined as Director of Hospitality last year and brings utter joy to the dining room as well as one of the best black books in the business.
Charlie’s exudes sophistication. The wallpaper frescoes, purposefully worn fabric on the seating and exotic bone china gave a homely feeling to the room. A quintessential British menu is on offer and there are Italian, French and Spanish influences too. Also, look out for a shiny silver trolley making its rounds with a trolley dish of the day.
We caught up with Jesus Adorno to talk about all things Charlie’s and hospitality.
How did it all start?
My passion for hospitality started when I moved to England and took my very first job working for Downside School in Somerset, where I was in charge of taking boarders’ lunches to the dining room. The joy and smiles they gave me made me realise I wanted to be in hospitality all my life. I was hooked.
Tell us about the restaurant experience at Charlie’s and what makes it different?
I fell in love with the room. To some that may sound strange, but this was my experience when I first walked into Charlie’s. The room gave me the confidence to start taking advantage of my black book again. It is a beautiful, historic room overlooking Albemarle Street. I have tweaked the room here and there to try and elevate the dining experience by adding in more banquette seating and swapping square tables for round ones. Now every table can see and be seen.
How has Mayfair changed in all the years you have been working there?
Mayfair has changed tremendously over the last few years. As an example, Berkeley Square is now home to a few high-profile restaurants and clubs, while Dover Street and Albemarle Street have a few more restaurants and high-profile shops. It is a joy to walk around Mayfair.
What would you say to someone who wants a career in hospitality?
You have to have passion, ambition and the vision to see your career ahead.
Top three tips to being a great leader?
- To be direct with your colleagues
- To be honest
- To understand that you are mentoring future leaders in hospitality.
If you could award a Michelin star right now, who would it be to and why?
Cavita, for its Mexican food with a twist. Some of the dishes deserve recognition as they are well-thought-through and well-prepared.
Cord restaurant, for its delicious and well-presented food. This is a real fine dining experience.
Apricity Restaurant from Chef Chantelle Nicholson, a friend of mine. Her restaurant has dishes that are just amazing, and guests are flocking from all over to eat there.
What are your favourite restaurants in London?
We know you have many regular customers and longstanding staff. What is the secret to retaining both?
You have to respect your customers and always understand that they are paying your salary. I will do somersaults for them. Attention to detail is very important. When guests are sitting at the table, you need to watch their body language and recognise their needs.
I want my guests to come back time and time again. Happy staff means happy guests and I talk about this to my young colleagues all the time.
What will the London food scene look like in 5 years’ time?
There is already an explosion of amazing restaurants with different cuisines and I believe it will continue to be the restaurant capital of the world.
What is next for Charlie’s at Brown’s?
Charlie’s will be one of the top restaurants in the West End. We have the room, we have power tables (check out table 16!), and we have a fabulous menu and the best service around.
To discover more, visit: roccofortehotels.com
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All imagery courtesy of Rocco Forte Hotels.