Seven Park Place (St James Hotel) – 1 Michelin Star

March 2017

Chef: William Drabble

Tucked down a side street leading off Saint James’s Street is the St James Hotel where William Drabble’s Seven Park Place resides. The decor in the restaurant is rather quirky to my mind with a mixture of classic Art Deco and bold patterned wallpaper decorated by pictures. Elsewhere the hotel’s deeply coloured wood panelling makes it feel warm and cosy, not oppressive and dark.Some old London clubs retain an unpleasant antiquated atmosphere, but that is not so here.

To start I chose mackerel which was very good with a small amount of the accompanying pickle and crunchy croutons which added a welcome texture. The pickled vegetables certainly complimented the mackerel however the flavour was very strong and I didn’t need as much pickle as was served.

We paired wine and the white served with the mackerel was excellent. A lovely glass of Ortega from Biddenden Vineyards, Kent. I was very impressed by the flavour which was tropical and surprisingly powerful and was a good match for the highly flavoured dish.

For my main I chose skate. The dish was very classic: skate cooked in butter, with caters, spinach and crushed potatoes. It was delicious. Simple really can be delightful when cooked to perfection as this was. The wine, another white, this time French was also enjoyable.

Mr M chose ox cheek, which was served with heritage carrots. Again I would describe the dish as very classic in style and very well cooked. He too enjoyed the wine paired.

I declined dessert in preference for the cheese board and was not disappointed. The selection of cheeses (all English but very French in style) was interesting and varied. The five I chose were delicious and complimented well by the port recommended by the sommelier.

Overall our visit was very enjoyable. The hotel and restaurant has a relaxed atmosphere and the service was of a very high standard. Seven Park Place has just nine tables which creates a very cosy, personal atmosphere and attentive staff.

In summary Seven Park Place is not the venue to discover a daring new flavour combination or something to challenge your gastronomic boundaries however this is the restaurant to enjoy some perfectly prepared classics and some more than decent wine which sometimes is exactly what is needed.

Rating 8/10

Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester- 3 Michelin Stars

February 2017

Chef: Alain Ducasse

I had high hopes for lunch at the Dorchester.

It began well- the hotel is itself is of course a lovely setting and the cocktails were very good. I tried Her Majesty’s cup (served from a teapot) and Clover Leaf, both were nice but Clover Leaf was really lovely.

There are some little touches here which you find in the good London hotels but wouldn’t find in a standalone restaurant like having staff to open the restaurant doors for you as you enter from the lobby and I do like my clutch bag to have its own little seat at the table so that is all good. The décor is ok but not to my taste. Not that that really matters what matters is the actual taste….

We started with some lovely breads and then opted for the lunch-hour menu. The amuse bouche was great too; tasty and beautiful in colour containing, unsurprisingly, a beetroot sauce (unsurprising because I don’t believe I have eaten a meal in London not incorporating beetroot since 2015). The starter of eel however was distinctly grey and vaguely unappealing to look at and the promised eel was hardly distinguishable. Not unpleasant but certainly nothing special. One of my companions had the poached egg with celeriac which they praised. The wine paired, a white, was fairly flavourless.

For the main I opted for pasta with lobster. That was certainly more appealing in look and taste than the starter and was much more flavoursome. The wine paired, another white, was OK and having tried both the reds on offer, both of which I disliked, I decided it was the best of the four on offer. There are just four ‘paired wines’ on offer with the lunch-hour menu regardless of what you choose from the menu which I am not sure is really ‘pairing’ the wine.

The petit fours were very tasty. Dessert was pleasant but again not particularly note-worthy. Having been disappointed in the sommelier’s wine chose I opted for my own choice of dessert wine from the menu (Austrian) which was lovely and somewhat made up for the earlier wine-induced disappointment.

I do offer a caveat to this review; I realise we had the lunch-hour menu so the menu is more limited than when dining in the evening or ordering from a la Carte. However this restaurant has 3 Michelin Stars and I expected more from them. There was nothing bad about our meal but equally there was also nothing particularly exciting or exceptional about it.

In summary I will offer some advice: if you want excellent food and impeccable service go to Restaurant Gordon Ramsey instead, if you want ‘the taste of France’ which The Dorchester promise on their website go to Club Gascon instead, if you want to dine splendidly in a good hotel visit The Connaught and if you want a meal to blow you away go to The Ledbury. Oh and if you still fancy The Dorcester don’t opt for the lunch hour menu.

Rating 6/10.

Outlaw at The Capital – 1 Michelin Star

January 2017

Chef: Tom Brown/ Nathan Outlaw

Not far from Hyde Park and just round the corner from Harrods nestles The Capital Hotel. The hotel itself is nice enough, if a little dated. I would say I prefer the decor of the bar to that of the restaurant.

We opted for the set lunch menu and I started with cured salmon. The salmon was beautiful in colour and the fish itself was good however but I didn’t feel that the yogurt dressing which it was served with complimented the fish (just my personal taste?) I was also disappointed that I could not detect the whisky notes on the salmon as mentioned on the menu.

Mr M chose lamb strumpet to start which he very much enjoyed and which I was also impressed with. The strumpet was served with ‘Preserved Herring & Mint’ a flavour combination which I was surprised to find was delicious with the soft lamb.

My main, the hake, was also delicious. The roast chicken and mushroom dressing was another revelation – I had not expected roast chicken to compliment hake so perfectly. I was equally impressed when I tried Mr M’s blade of beef which was soft and succulent.

For dessert I couldn’t resist the treacle tart which was also very nice.

The service was pleasant although not faultless (they forgot to bring water to the table when requested) and when fellow diners were seated next to us mid-meal we felt the tables were a little too close together.

Overall I enjoyed lunch at The Capital and I think it was a steal at just £33 a head. As a fish lover I always enjoy a menu where fish is king and of course the fish was all well cooked.

In summary this is a great place to visit for lunch particularly if you are a lover of fish. What I really enjoyed here were the surprising flavour combinations (excluding yogurt with salmon). It is always pleasing to try new flavour combinations that work so perfectly; the chef is clearly very skilled. I would definitely recommend a visit and at such a good price I can’t see why you wouldn’t.

Rating 7.5/10

The Ledbury – 2 Michelin Stars

January 2017

Chef: Brett Graham

The Ledbury is quite simply the best restaurant I have been to. Better even than the 3 Michelin Starred restaurants I have visited. Admittedly Restaurant Gordon Ramsey was difficult to beat, but having considered this at length I have decided that it has now been knocked of its number one spot. Sorry Gordon.

The building is light and airy and makes for a lovely lunch setting although no doubt it is just as nice for dinner. The staff who were excellent were attentive but not over bearing. For perhaps the first time the maître d actually seemed to understand my husband’s aversion to the taste of diary products and catered for us perfectly.

We tried the lunch menu and the food was simply spectacular. This is beautiful food and what makes this the best of restaurants is that the food, which is stunning in presentation, really does taste as good as it looks. All four courses were interesting and well put-together and preserved the excellent taste which can sometimes be lost in the pursuit of art-like presentation.

The highlight of the food was definitely the Chinese water deer; eaten with the smoked bone marrow it was served with was spectacular and at least equal to the deer served at Paris House (1 Michelin Starred restaurant situated in Woburn deer park, reviewed January 2013).

Not only was the food faultless the wine was excellent too. We had wine paired to our lunch and felt that the sommelier was impressive and knowledgeable and that every wine was well chosen. I particularly enjoyed the sweet wine served with my dessert – delicious.

In summary I think I can be very concise in my summing up: you have to go here.

Rating 10/10

Opus (Vienna) – 1 Michelin Star

December 2016

Chef: Stefan Speiser

On a recent visit to Vienna (a beautiful city well worth visiting) we chose Opus, at The Hotel Imperial, for dinner.

I think the hotel is lovely grand and luxurious – a great setting for the restaurant. The restaurant itself was perfect and had a calm, elegant atmosphere which I enjoyed.

We chose the five course Opus menu which was excellent. I would describe the majority of the courses as simply (and perfectly) cooked meat or fish but all served with an incredible sauce. By the end of the meal we had privately dubbed the chef: ‘king of the sauces’ because there was an amazing amount of flavour in each and every one. Delightful.

Nearly every course also incorporated some sort of pickled vegetables but of course this isn’t the ‘beetroot in vinegar’ sort of pickled veg which Britons might now be imagining with a grimace. This is delightedly refreshing and varied pickled vegetables which complimented the dishes well.

We chose to have wines paired to each course and were delighted to learn that each wine was Austrian and many were from nearby vineyards. The wines themselves were very enjoyable and a great match for the food.

Another memorable element of the dinner was the butter served with the bread which took the form of a butter candle, lit at the table and which then resulted in warm butter soaking into the fresh herbs waiting the base of the candle-holder. Incorporated with warm bread this was a heavenly start to the meal.

In summary I think this is a great place. If you are in Vienna this is, without doubt, worth a visit. 

Rating 9/10

Murano- 1 Michelin Star

December 2016

Chef: Angela Hartnett

I was excited when Mr M organised dinner at Murano recently. I love Italian food (who doesn’t?) and there are so many Italian restaurants around but the majority of the Michelin starred restaurants I have eaten in have been French. Angela Hartnett worked with Gordon Ramsey but her influences are mainly Italian as a result of her Italian heritage.

I think the restaurant, in Mayfair, has a lovely understated elegance and I liked the setting immediately.

I also appreciated the menu format which is grouped into five sections of four dishes. Diners can then chose between two and five courses. The sections are not headed up as starters, mains etc and so diners can chose a variety of dishes from which ever section they choose. One of my companions wanted two course form one section, no problem. I liked this relaxed inspired way of looking at the menu.

From the a la carte we chose four courses which were all very nice. The pasta was of course perfect and I also enjoyed the rabbit and partridge. My companions all praised their choices too. I feel that this is comfort food, as Italian food so often is, but this is far superior to most other Italain food I have had.

In summary I very much enjoyed visiting Murrano…high quality, skillfully prepared comfort food.  Although I was not blown away by our meal but it was certainly very enjoyable.

Rating 8.5/10

 

Club Gascon – 1 Michelin Star

September 2016

Chef: Pascal Aussignac

Oh what a lovely place! The restaurant is quite unassuming from the outside. Inside you are transported to France and the sort of cosy restaurant you might hope to find on a trip across the Channel.

We started with cocktails and I can recommend their French 75. We were dining in the evening and had the five course taster, paired with wines. Impressed by the choice of wines, I later researched one or two and they were inexpensive but they were excellently paired which is surely the sign of a good sommelier . The sommelier certainly seemed to know her wines although her strong French accent meant we had to confer afterwards to establish what she had told us. Still that isn’t a criticism – this is a French restaurant after all and I can never remember anything a sommelier tells me anyway so this just added to the, already abundant, charm.

Now to the food…what a delight.

The fact that two of Mr M’s favourite courses were the amuse bouche of tomato tartare (he is a reluctant consumer of vegetables of any sort) and the dessert (he really just eats meat given the choice) indicates the quality of the chef. Other highlights were a delicate rose veal tartare and a course of red mullet. The food here is really excellent, and better than I had hoped. I can’t stress enough just how lovely our meal was.

Anything negative? Well I thought the loos were a bit grim. I know, I know… one isn’t dining in there but still it is the sort of thing I do notice. However the restaurant is undergoing a revamp in early-2017 and is due to open again at the end of February I imagine that criticism will no longer apply. Once it does re-open I can see this place getting a second Michelin star.

In summary this is a wonderful place, one of my favourites, and  inexpensive for the quality of the food and wine which are superb. I look forward to visiting again following the re-launch.

Rating 10/10.