2 Michelin starred French restaurant, tucked away within a quiet Mews of Mayfair
Editor's note: closed June 2020 owing to the impact of COVID-19
The Greenhouse now has a new chef in the form of Allex Dilling who was formerly working as Helene Daroze’s right-hand man at The Connaught and took over the Greenhouse in Aug 2018. In 2018 and 2019 he earned the restaurant two Michelin stars which, no doubt the restaurant will be very grateful for. Canapes on this occasion were among the best I have had in the whole of the UK and the dishes themselves were wonderful. The set menu lunch represents good value for money and the service is still as attentive as it has ever been. I would seriously recommend this restaurant and is one of the hidden gems, certainly in London and I love its ‘off the beaten track’ location within a charming Mayfair mews, moments from the bustle of Berkeley Street, Bruton Street and Piccadilly. A definite must-try if you have not been able to yet.
Breads came with a mix of Comte cheese, olives and oat. The amuse Bouches included squid ink parcel gazpacho chorizo, quail egg tartlet with asparagus, pepper and creme fraiche, smoked salmon and sorrel bites, gazpacho with strawberry with pepper and cucumber and finally a Cornish crab salad sturgeon mouse crab jelly with Almas caviar and Venus sturgeon. This was serious business and these canapes themselves are not just little nibbles to pass the time in my book, they are hardcore efforts and some of the best openers to a meal I have come across and are frankly brushing close to some three Michelin starred canapes in Germany and that is the highest they get.
Starters included Isle of Wight tomato, Goat’s curd, Greek basil, wild strawberry, pickled radish with dashi which utterly fresh and so welcome for the summer. Duck foie gras done well is never going to be a bad thing and this was delivered beautifully, marinated with Cévennes onion, lemongrass, champignon de Paris and lemon thyme.
Œuf noir is an egg dish with truffle (a blissful combination) whereby the eggs are cooked at exactly 35 degrees for 50 minutes to give their malleable and firmer texture. They are coated in a truffle jelly and served with pain au lait (sweet, buttery bun) and with truffle shavings from Australia all over them. A decadent dish with subtle truffle and all done very well. “Lapin à la moutarde” (rabbit) came with smoked Alsace bacon, wild mustard leaf and confit rabbit leg inside a parcel. Poached cod with English pea, smoked mussels and gem lettuce completed a successful round of mains on all levels.
Desserts of yellow bourbon coffee, almond, mascarpone – apricot, elderflower and prosecco and a pea sorbet with strawberry cremauex were all light and quality to eat. Coffee was nespresso (for consistency or so the usual reason is given) and petit fours included madeleines with lemon and sage, chocolate truffles and macarons with smoked vanilla – ALL of which were stunning as petit fours.
This really was a class act from start to finish and if there was ever a contender to inch towards three Michelin stars, it is this venue, sooner I might add, than the recently anointed Sketch. As this is a new chef, the overall food-grade changes to the average of this new chef – as this is the first visit under this new regime and the opening is a very strong 90%, this, therefore, is the new ‘average’ grade until the next visits (under the same chef) which are then averaged again.
Food Grade: 90%
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%