The Twin Brothers Restaurant, London, 51 Church Street W8

Ffiona’s restaurant, formerly Twin Brothers

This review of London’s Twin Brothers restaurant appeared in Cheap Eats in London, 1976. Helge Schmidt remained the owner-manager for twelve years. His daughter later wrote, “It was at the Twin Brothers that Helge met his Australian wife, my mum – Jan.”

“The Twin Brothers Restaurant is recognizable from the outside by a little striped awning and red fringed lamps in the windows. It is situated in Kensington Church Street, just where the road has a kink in it. Inside, there are more fringed lamps on gilded brackets, dark green and gold wallpaper, Murillo-like portraits and still lives of fruit. Spindly wrought-iron chairs and gilt-framed mirrors give the place an air of a Viennese café , for this restaurant is owned and run by Helge and Detlef Schmidt, who are from Berlin and are, as the name of the restaurant implies, twin brothers. Helge, a blond giant who would look well as Siegfried, does the waiting, Detlef, who remains unseen, but who is presumably also a blond giant, does the cooking…

… Service, as performed by Helge and a charming Australian waitress called Jane, is something of an entertainment in itself. Gentlemen customers, of whatever age, are welcomed by Helge with a loud, ‘Hello young man!’ and if he’s met them before, he kisses the ladies. On being told that they have booked, he is invariably and vociferously astonished. ‘You booked! Mein Gott! Gif me one minute of my life!’… to which customers might well need to add half an hour of their own. They must wait patiently with a glass of wine while their patron intermittently informs the rest of the company that ‘Evvysing iss under German control–jawohl!- evvysing iss in my hants!’ Eventually they will be given a table (‘I am leading you now into Paradise!’) and their dinners brought more or less promptly, depending perhaps on pressures down in the kitchen. Dishes are presented gracefully, with the hope that you will enjoy your meal prettily expressed. Orders are taken either by Jane or Helge in a friendly kneeling position with their elbows on the table and their eyes shinning into yours. One might be churlish and wish that if the service was a bit rougher the food would be ready all the sooner, but it looks as if half the attraction of this immensely popular restaurant, for most of the customers, is the near-cabaret turn but on by its dazzling proprietor.”

Cheap Eats in London, Susan Campbell with Alexandra Towle, Penguin Books, 1976.

Palomino Espresso: