2 Michelin starred French restaurant, tucked away within a quiet Mews of Mayfair
A due return visit to this Michelin starred French restaurant in London’s Mayfair. Embedded within an ex-council estate block of flats that are now clearly more difficult to come by, the walkway to the entrance resembles a greenhouse and inside is a swish, white table-clothed interior with formal service. In terms of a set lunch menu this was most definitely in the upper echelon on Michelin starred lunches which, ultimately should be the case as this restaurant has two Michelin stars. £40 gave a three course lunch, 5 courses when considering the canapés and amuse bouche without wine and this represents very good value when the food is at this standard and very much worth the journey. With wine and at dinner here for two, the bill would be considerably different.
Nibbles were brought to the pristine table in the form of an Iberica ham panna cotta with melon gel on thin crisp and prawn cocktail encased in soft rice paper along with a mini, crunchy cigar of mushroom paste with ginger all of which were of a good standard but the latter, with its pleasant kick being the more notable. The bread selection was good and even though these were not made on site, the feuilleté bread was absolutely superb; the pastry on this was entirely brittle with a very soft inside and far more interesting than most breads had recently. Seaweed butter isn’t normally my favourite, but this was balanced very well.
Then came the amuse bouche which is one of the restaurant’s proud, signature dishes which the chef (Arnaud Bignon) had created at his previous 2 Michelin starred restaurant in Greece. This was white crab, slightly curried, with a ginger cauliflower puree, mint gel apple foam, curry oil and diced apple on top. You would think that those components would destroy the crab, but somehow the crab was able to be noticed enough and it was a very light and carefully balanced dish.
The starter of girolle mushrooms with cobnut, amontillado (a form of fortified wine) and spinach was an unsubstantial dish and a little small as a starter and simple, but the sherry of amontillado worked well with the mushrooms and one cannot expect lobster laced with caviar on a set lunch menu at the same time. The Jacobs Ladder (flank steak) with celeriac and bone marrow purée, plums and soy was elegantly prepared and again, very much a set menu dish. The very lightly pickled plums worked well and the celeriac and marrow puree was probably the most enjoyable aspect along with the superb bavette of bone marrow, flank and the same puree as a side serving.
Dessert was Equatorial chocolate with tarragon mousse, tarragon sorbet and gel with chocolate biscuit base and chocolate ganache which had an utterly light base and the combination with the tarragon was a great. Petit fours came in the shape of crunchy peanut butter, yuzu and coconut, and mint meringue and apple gel, all of which registered well.
Overall this was a confident meal with a very well presented polish, clearly in keeping with how a set menu can be done. It was also a pleasant uplift when comparing with some 1 Michelin star set menu lunches of late that have exposed a price tag of being slightly lower (in £35-40) but significantly lower in effort and execution in comparison to this meal. Service was sincere and focussed throughout and the only things that let this meal down slightly were an audible reprimand of a staff member which is not what the customer wants to hear and the fact that when I opted for no coffee, this was still charged with an over-confident chuckle in that, this should have been obvious as it was the all in price. I disagree – this may be the case, but it would have been better for the paying customer to be alerted that the option of not going for coffee would still be charged for it. Not the end of the world, but it signalled a tinge of arrogance from the staff to do so. Ultimately, this was good value for money and I would rather have this at the slightly higher premium as a set menu for the skill and pleasantness that came with it, than a slightly lower price and badly done dishes. A very good set menu lunch and good to be back.
Food Grade: 82%
Tucked away in Mayfair behind an old council estate-looking set of residential flats that are now obviously occupied by modern earners of a vastly different annual income, the restaurant has a lovely, almost rainforest design of entrance as one makes their way along a board walk to get to the stylish cave that it is. You will need a map or a good taxi driver to actually get there however there is no doubt it has a very nice feel inside even in its classic white table clothed, black uniformed French style which can sometimes be a little too bland. The food was certainly modern in its design and without question was very well executed, however there was a distinct lack of explosions happening on my food delight valve.
It has since this review gained its second Michelin star and as a result they have, unfortunately sent the price tag of their menu rocketing upwards because they will obviously be able to get away with it and on my second visit with a second star I saw absolutely no mirrored increase in the dishes (sadly photos missing from this second visit). It has made me actually wish to avoid here now as it is good cooking and it was definitely in the upper echelons of 1 stars when I went to it on the first outing but simply feels like an expensive let down with its second star and the prices given suggest it takes itself far too seriously. More concentration should be given on producing frankly better tasting dishes.
Food Grade: 71%
Location (Click google logo for directions)