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|Address:||Claridge's, Brook Street, London W1K 4HR|
|Tel:||020 3551 2823|
|Price: £115.00||Wine: £29.00||Champagne: £68.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-2.30pm 6.30-10pm|
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We'd been to Roganic a time or two, were a little saddened when it closed , and a bit puzzled when Simon Rogan set up in Claridges. In general we tend to prefer chefs to have their own space, and can think of several whose output seemed to have diminished after moving into opulent hotel surroundings . Marcus Wareing is a shining example of the fact that this isn't inevitable, but its been clear to use over the years that we much preferred Pierre Koffman's food before the Berkeley, much preferred Nico Ladenis' cuisine before the Grosvenor, and far preferred Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road to anything of his in hotels. Lets hope Simon Rogan will be different, and on the basis of this meal he may well.
We both tried the set lunch today- 3 courses at £45 but you do get a couple of amuses bouches as well. The food was every bit as good we ate at Roganic . All three of our courses were quite complex insofar as they contained quite a lot of ingredients. In each case every one of those ingredients counted and we could taste them individually. In every case the dish offered intense but easy to like flavours. Everything was beautifully cooked and presented. In my view this is already one of the best restaurants in London, and offers a change in pace from the more classical fine dining offers (which we still enjoy). Its worth saying that the portions are small and after three courses and three amuses bouches and some unique and interesting petits fours, I didn't feel stuffed. Some people will translate that to poor value- we don't as I guess we feel we're paying for the quality and creativity of what we're eating. But that's not to say that a little more on the plate would go unappreciated.
Both the restaurant and the service deserve comment. Service first. After we'd been in the restaurant 45 minutes we'd has two amuses bouches, starter and main course and the wine was being topped up every few minutes. It was looking like they needed us out in an hour, yet the restaurant wasn't full. So I asked why. Apparently at weekday lunch the bulk of customers are business people with limited time, so the kitchen tries to respond to that. Once I'd suggested that we were not in a hurry, relished a little time between courses to discuss the meal , and saw a visit here as a bit of an occasion ( well it was our anniversary) the pace relaxed and frankly so did the waiters, and brisk and competent became much more friendly. If you want a relaxed meal here I'd suggest you make that clear at the outset- as we shall in future.
The room is beautifully presented, and in my view vies with Gilbert Scott as visually the nicest dining room we've been to in London. Entering the hotel looks great, the restaurant is great. Between the two there's a rather odd little door and curtained passage that opens up to the great restaurant space almost as a denouement deliberately withheld from you till that moment. It's as if someone had been watching the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe , and you have to enter the Wardrobe before you get to see Narnia. Certainly a first for us.
So on balance a really good meal, and we're sure to go back. The bill for our two set lunches, a Rueda from the low end of the list, coffee, water and service came to £150, so serious and worth it. Had we chosen the “choice” menu again three courses – it would have been closer to £250 . We'll try that next time, and there will be a next time.