Regal restaurant set in one of London's finest Hotels
This was a return that went way better than I was expecting. I always knew how nicely The Lanesborough did things when the Michelin starred Italian restaurant Apsley’s was in residence and that also goes for their tea which I also believe, for the ease, style and brightness of the dining area is the best venue for high tea in London, possibly the whole of the UK. A few years and millions of pounds worth of refurbishment later and a newly promoted Michelin starred and revamped Céleste restaurant at The Lanesborough under the helmsman ship of Florian Favario, formerly of Le Bristol and I was very happy to be back. A very good lunch here and much to be desired to come back to.
First up, the dining room and the hotel is much the same shape as before but all of the old, dark, almost gentleman’s pipe-smoking club, wood décor (outside of the restaurant) has been replaced with a much breezier and light toned panelling and intricate ceiling designs that will make many a date start on a positive note for those that are in need of credit with the other half. The dining room itself was spacious as always and seemed to have even more brightness from the glass (with linen blinds) roof. I don’t think anyone could have too many negatives on the look and feel of the venue in any way.
Delicious spiced lentils in mini-tacos were provided to munch on whilst selecting the menu and the smoked butter here really was delightful with the breads. This does actually stick in my mind as a superb flavour giving an immediate impression of the efforts that the kitchen here desires to do.
I opted for the set lunch menu with matching wines and the news is that I simply became happier and happier with each offering. A gorgeously airy mushroom velouté sat beneath a delicate crisp layer and hen’s egg for richness with a lovely choice of strong glass of 2015 Salta Torrontes from Argentina that cut through it beautifully but without any harshness. The main of beef cheek was softened to the touch with a marvellous combo of coconut decorated carrot which I really did think was the star of the show and gave the dish a lovely and vibrant character, washed down with a gentle 2007 Roija (Crianza, Vina Cubillo) that slipped down with total ease.
Although quite full on chocolatey, I thought the dessert was very impressive and frankly the line between this presentation and those I have had in many 2 Michelin star restaurants was very thin, and that’s on this set menu(!). A fortified wine (NV Banyulus “Gaby Vial”), deep with cherry really went with this well – I’m not the biggest fan of port, but when it’s done good, it’s good(!) and this went very well in its more manageable and generally lighter touch.
I was waiting for something to not be to my liking, but even the petit fours served in a chocolate shell had just the sort of things that you love, including softened fudge, very nicely glazed pecan nuts and mini marshmallows, all in workably bite sized form. With the exception of being in slight chocolate overload state at the end, I so enjoyed this meal, all its flavours and for the £65 for the meal and matching wines, this was one of the strongest returns I have had all year – a brilliantly judged meal.
A quick word on going the extra mile – grandeur is all fine, but what is most difficult to pull off is a sense of non-stuffy genuine warmth and a relaxed feel at the same time – Lucknam Park, Le Gavroche and Le Manoir are examples of places where I think this is achieved and I am adding The Lanesborough to this list with full volume as the staff were superb. An example of this was when one of the floor staff was walking in my direction to clear my main and then saw that I was breaking bread to sweep every molecule of jus from the dish, and simply diverted his path without any sense of judgement or hassle – my happiness as the diner was at the forefront of his mind, so there’s class and there is class and the grace shown by all on my visit to Céleste puts The Lanesborough decidedly in the latter.
This was one of the highlights of the year for me and this includes a year with a visit to a perfect 100% dining experience in Copenhagen (actually this was not Noma but actually 3 Michelin starred Geranium) and another high memory at The Fat Duck, so Céleste is a fairly good zone to be in! A great re-opening and am so pleased to have enjoyed the menu and experience as much as I did – I could have stayed here forever actually, but alas, duty calls elsewhere.
Food Grade: 88%
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