One of Soho’s most celebrated and cherished restaurateurs, Andrew Edmunds, has died at the age of 79.
In an Instagram post on Monday 19 September, the restaurant wrote: “So terribly sad x so many happy memories x such a very great part of Soho x unique x inimitable x a consummate host x a superb vintner x possessed of great charm x as wonderful at table as he was at greetings x what a joy x what a loss x gone too soon but not forgotten x with many condolences.”
Edmunds and his eponymous Lexington Street icon is something of a Soho relic in 2022 — a small window into the neighbourhood’s bohemian past, many people’s most romantic restaurant, a gathering place for artists, raconteurs, dandies, flaneuses, claret enthusiasts, and old-school hospitality. Andrew Edmunds, the location, apparently in large part thanks to Andrew Edmunds, the man, remained unchanged in a pocket of central London that has transformed. Only moments from the first Veggie Pret and the Ivy Soho Brasserie, opposite an eyewear shop which has replaced Fernandez and Wells, on a street that has welcomed Bao and Rita’s, and watched hair salons, fashion boutiques, and advertising agencies come and go, it is a place whose continuity and history has anchored it to its local community.
In Eater London’s most romantic restaurant guide, the restaurant is described thus:
Is there a better backdrop than Old Soho for the beginning (or, indeed, the end) of an affair? For more than 30 years Andrew Edmunds has been setting the scene with a Franco-British menu encompassing asparagus, dressed crab, confit duck and rhubarb jelly with cream. Upstairs it’s all flickering candlelight, wax dripping down claret bottles (steady on) and wildflower posies. The discreet tables downstairs, meanwhile, are very popular with men of a certain age whose wives don’t understand them — or maybe understand them a little too well.
Drapers Arms’s publican Nick Gibson was among those paying tribute to Edmunds in the comments: “My inspiration for steadfast hospitality, absurd generosity, unfussy but fabulous food, some intensely romantic lunches I wished could have lasted forever,” he wrote, “memories and experiences that have enriched my life.”
While Times restaurant critic Marina O’Loughlin said it was the “saddest news.”
Former Quality Wines sommelier, Gus Gluck, who now imports wines wrote that Edmunds inspired his own career path: “Andrew is the truest form of Legend. An inspiration to my own hospitality career. He fostered a place young wine professionals could afford to drink the wines they normally could only serve.”
A fellow Soho legend, Quo Vadis chef Jeremy Lee wrote that he was “deeply saddened.” “genial x charming x a great host x wonderful vintner and keeper of one of Soho’s most beloved restaurants that stayed true always to good cooking x bonhomie x much fun x a great lunch x and dinner x gone too soon,” he added.