Named after owner Sir Peter Michael’s elite Californian winery, this upscale hotel-cum- hospitality destination certainly knows how to put on the style, from its magnificent cellar (30,000 bottles and counting) to the food served in the glamorous split-level dining room. Not unlike an ornate 1950s movie set, this provides a scene-setter for Daniel Galmiche’s subtly inventive take on classic French cooking – perhaps ballottine of guinea fowl with lemon and walnuts, sea bass with red chard, chive and quinoa or venison with butternut squash, pearl barley and hazelnut. Diners are encouraged to pick several dishes from the flexible carte, rounding off with something sweet such as Griottine cherry and cranberry terrine with pistachio parfait. Prices can be steep, but with the user-friendly menu layout and matching wines plucked from 100 by-the-glass selections, bills don’t need to be extortionate. Well-tutored staff go about their business with warm enthusiasm.
With UK Sommelier of the Year Yohann Jousselin MS at the helm, you’d expect this list to be on the money – and you’d be right. An enormous list – more than 120 pages – but it’s not simply stuffed with big names and myriad vintages. The Vineyard’s list is justly renowned for its selection of more than 300 Californian wines that is probably unequalled anywhere outside the States, but what really impresses is the willingness to take great wine from everywhere, whether fashionable or not. There is, of course, real sexiness to be had in the European wines: half-a-dozen vintages of Cheval Blanc back to 1955, for instance; nine vintages of Ornellaia and more than a dozen of Sassicaia. And the selection of 60 ‘Everyday Drinking’ sub-£30 wines (helpfully split up by style) is proof of a genuine desire (rather than token effort) to cater for the budget-conscious.
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Square Meal has pledged to donate an extra £1 to StreetSmart for every online booking made at a participating restaurant through Squaremeal.co.uk in November & December 2013.
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