Fernandez & Wells is a now a small chain of impressive cafes with three venues in Soho, a recently opened one in South Kensington for the museum crowd and, what I think is the best of the lot, within the magnificent East Wing of Somerset House.
Bigger and better (the setting obviously helps) than the others and with specially commissioned artworks by David Tremlett that vies for attention with the wall of hanging jamon, this is a perfect marriage of style and setting. It’s where I imagine Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem would stop for a while before doing something star-studded. “Oh, hi Penelope. Hi Andrew. Have you time to join us for a Rioja?….”
Great coffee, sandwiches, soup, the ubiquitous jamon, cheese, wine, cake. I could easily spend a lot of time and a lot of money here (it isn’t cheap), and despite the obviously stylish interior and setting this is basically simple food. Very good, well-sourced food (like the succulent, plump anchovies I devoured) but still quite basic really. There isn’t any fancy cooking going on here, just freshly made food and drink that make this an exceptional cafe/bar.
Somerset House was always worth a visit before F&W took residence thanks to the art exhibitions, the location next to the Thames, the spectacular open air cinema in the summer, the ice rink in the winter, the Rizzoli bookshop and the Courtauld Institute of Art. But now, thanks to Fernandez & Wells, it is even better.