The Ninth – 1 Michelin Star

March 2017

Chef: Jun Tanaka

I was intrigued to try this restaurant because the menu looked a little unusual and because I was amazed by the price of their set lunch at three plates for just £25.

The restaurant, an unassuming little place on Charlotte Street, is small and cafe-like. We were early for our reservation and initially sat at the bar for a drink. The general drinks menu is a little limited with nothing especially exciting but the wine menu is perfectly fine and we did enjoy the wine which we tried, particularly a very drinkable and affordable Beaujolais.

I do like the style of this restaurant which is informal and perfect for lunch. This isn’t a fine dining sort of place but it certainly has charm.

The restaurant describes its cuisine as ‘French Mediterranean sharing food’ but I think it is easier if I were to describe it as more akin to high quality tapas. Wanting to experience both menus we chose three dishes from the set lunch menu and then some further dishes from the main menu.

From the set menu we had king prawn macaroni, marinated mussels with chorizo, and chargrilled lamb, crisp breast and couscous salad. The mussels were nice but not exceptional. The other two dishes were however, very good. The prawn macaroni was wonderfully rich and flavoursome whilst the lamb was absolutely divine; some of the best I have had. I was amazed at the flavour of the crisp breast which worked perfectly with the rest of the lamb which was tender and succulent. The couscous was nice enough… as interesting as couscous ever is.

From the main menu we chose the freshly baked pitta, oxtail croquettes, crispy pigs trotter and the razor clam ceviche. All the dishes were good but the razor clam ceviche stood out, being very fresh and flavoursome, with perfectly balanced flavours. I also very much enjoyed the oxtail croquettes especially the wasabi green sauce which they were served with which complimented them so well.

All the dishes are designed for sharing and we enjoyed this style of eating as we frequently, half-surreptitiously, pass forkfuls of food to each other, even in the most formal of restaurants. This certainly makes for an enjoyable meal but it only suites a relaxed sort of meal probably only with fellow diners who you already know.

The service is fine but not exceptional (expect to pour your own water) and some of the restaurant looks a little tired.

In summary I do like this restaurant, and two of the dishes stood out as being exceptional. The restaurant does not feel like a Michelin starred restaurant so don’t expect fine dining but I would recommend it as a great value place to visit for lunch or an informal supper.

Rating: 7/10

Mere – Monica Galetti

March 2017

Chef: Monica Galetti

Monica Galleti’s long awaited restaurant, Mere, opened on Monday and as I was dining in town on Tuesday evening it was the obvious choice.

Situated on Charlotte Street the restaurant is larger than I expected with a bar on the ground floor and the restaurant at basement level. I enjoyed the blue velvet decor in the bar and of course had to try the Mere house cocktail which I enjoyed.

The restaurant feels very light and modern with lots of glass and some interesting art. We sat at the front of the restaurant which is the full height of the two floors.

To start we had an amuse bouche in which pear was the dominant element, it was a little sweet for me but not unpleasant.

I then chose the scollops which were delicious. The black curry they were served with had the perfect level of heat and I enjoyed the crispy rice sprinkled on top which added an interesting texture. Mr M choose the octopus which was flavoured with chorizo and was also delicious.

For my main I chose the beef and was not disappointed as it was excellent. The meat itself was faultless in quality and in the way it was cooked. The accompanying ox cheek, caramelised onion and little Yorkshire-pudding-like dumplings were great partners to the meat. One the best courses I have had this year (water-deer at The Ledbury is the other contender for top spot). Mr M chose squab which was also perfectly cooked and which he was very happy with.

Throughout the meal the service was excellent. We asked the sommelier for wine suggestions by the glass and the wines we tried were good although not outstanding. We did have a very nice post dinner sweet red wine.

We were very impressed with all the food we tried. There are clearly French, but also many other, influences in the food which makes a pleasant change from classic French. These diverse influences make for an interesting and rather eclectic mixture of flavours in the dishes.

In summary we had an excellent meal and the service was perfect. I would certainly recommend a visit and I’m sure it won’t be long before Mere has a Michelin star.

Rating: 9/10

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

La Chapelle – 1 Michelin Star

January 2017
Chef: Chris and Jeff Galvin
This was my first visit to one of the Galvin brothers restaurants. The restaurant is lovely, I like the decor which is romantic despite the size of the restaurant which must be one of the largest Michelin starred restaurant I have been too. We decided to try the Menu du Chef having heard about how good value it is.

The menu is certainly inexpensive at £34.50 for three courses however the choices on offer did feel a little lacking; we felt the menu was just a selection of the cheapest dishes. To start we had soup which was very tasty including as it did some very nice mash potato at its centre. Sounds a bit strange but it was very good. For the main I considered the gnocchi or liver and bacon. I decided on the liver which was nice and was accompanied by more lovely, buttery mash potato.

The staff were very pleasant and we also enjoyed the wine which the sommelier suggested.

In summary the food was certainly very nice but I wouldn’t particularly recommend this menu; it did feel that we were having the cheap option. Instead I would suggest choosing from the a la carte. As the food and service were both good I look forward to visiting other Galvin brothers restaurants such as Galvin at Windows soon.

Rating: 7/10

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