New French restaurant Mister Nice on Davies Street brings contemporary Parisian cuisine to Mayfair’s culinary landscape. It’s the second W1 project for JP Kley, whose chic-cool private members’ club Nikita is a few doors down – there’s even a secret passageway connecting the two. With its glamorous clientele and beguiling menu, here’s why Mister Nice is our restaurant of the week.
Mister Nice is an international man of mystery. Who is he? We can’t say for sure and there isn’t a lot to go on. What we know for certain is that there’s a glossy new French restaurant on Davies Street that bears his name, and it is a blast.
Typically, how it goes with new restaurants is that there’s a PR campaign that builds a year in advance. First the whispers, then a brief notice in the trade press, eventually a press release, and finally a flurry of interviews, profiles, and a society page splash. Mister Nice has played it rather cooler. Even its website reveals next to nothing: no menu, no wine list, just a cryptic ‘About’ page (“8.30 In the morning. Time to wake up. Eggs Benedict for Room 907, s’il vous plaît”).
The chic new spot is the creation of French entrepreneur JP Kley, founder of the luxury Mayfair members’ club Nikita a few doors away. Thrillingly, you can get from one to the other via a secret corridor (IYKYK). Los Angeles’ Italian American celebrity hang The Nice Guy, beloved of Drake, Gigi Hadid and co, is said to be an inspiration, though Mister Nice looks to France, to the Riviera of Jane Birkin and Alain Delon for its style cues. The A-list will be all over it.
Word has got out about Mister Nice. The dining room is packed to the rafters when we arrive for a midweek supper. The social set is out in force and the upbeat mood is contagious. We feel even better about our supper venue once we read the menu. Chef Javier Duarte (former head chef at Barrafina and Seabird) has compiled a dream menu that reads, in the best possible way, like luxury room service. Every dish is a craveable classic, think rigatoni al vodka, lamb cutlets, grilled sole, and Ibérico ham. If you’re being good, there’s superfood salad, yellowtail sashimi, or salmon with sauce vierge. My friend and I look at each other with undisguised glee. Permission to order a club sandwich! An omelette! A Caesar salad! While it’s great to have one’s gastronomic horizons broadened, it’s sometimes fun to eat like a spoilt child, jetlagged traveller, or pampered millionaire.
To start, we settle on foie gras terrine with triangles of Melba toast and an endive and Roquefort salad with slices of crunchy pear. To follow, Le Club Sandwich with perfect pommes allumettes and, for me, a plate of coquillettes pasta (tiny macaroni) ‘au jambon’, a Gruyère-loaded nursery dish beloved of French preschoolers. I could make it at home but care not a jot; it’s exactly what I fancy. Add a bottle of Champagne or a prestigious bottle from the French wine list and, to me, that’s the definition of luxury.
Designer Victoria Vogel has decorated the former gallery space in a minimalist monochrome palette of black, white, and silver. The waiting staff look the part too, in pristine white jackets. It’s smart and comfortable, though I notice nobody holes up at Mister Nice for the night. It’s somewhere to swing by before moving on to the next party. We just need to find that secret corridor.