Another offbeat venue? Try FidelioDaily Comfort Zone
I had such a good time at The Pheasantry in Chelsea that I let myself be taken to the Fidelio cafe in Farringdon, where a classical recital precedes your evening meal.
I chose a bad night. There was a tube strike and central London was logjammed. I arrived 20 minutes late, halfway through Beethoven’s Tempest sonata, which I failed to recognise from the inside out.
The pianist was a late substitute for a Russian no-show, but good. Louis Schwizgebel, who is Swiss and Chinese, is very much at home in Viennnese classics, following the Beethoven with Schubert’s D958 sonata and Liszt’s transcription of Ständchen as an encore. He was also an entertaining guest at our table for dinner afterwards. The atmosphere in the cafe is convivial, informal and, at times, elevating. I did not expect an intelligent exchange on Wittgenstein and Adorno between courses.
Fidelio Cafe is the brainchild of an Italian, Raffaello Morales, who conducts a small orchestra on the side. His cafe soloists include Angela Hewitt, Steven Isserlis, Viktoria Mullova and Nicola Benedetti – quite a handful in a room that sits 40-50 around tables on ground and balcony level. The cafe opened shortly before Covid and continued engaging and recompensing artists for two long years.
As a musical space it is inviting. As far as food goes, the vegetarian dishes were uninspiring.
See for yourself here.
There’s a video on YouTube of Steven Isserlis playing Bach Suites 1 & 3 at the Fidelio Café, which I’ve watched numerous times. I so wish I’d been there!