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|Address:||20 Queen Street, London W1J 5PP|
|Tel:||020 7495 1127|
|Price: £91.00||Wine: £29.50||Champagne: £65.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sat 12N-3pm 6.30-11pm|
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
It may be a big gamble for Angela Hartnett taking on Murano herself, but with food this good, I really hope that she succeeds. She certainly deserves to flourish here, with a free hand to run the kitchen as she pleases.
The restaurant itself is all muted pastels: beiges, creams and that non-entity of a colour: magnolia. The atmosphere too is muted and hushed, maybe so as to allow the hedge fund billionaire clientele to hear what their nieces, some of whom were young enough to please Berlusconi, have to say, without the need to resort to their ear trumpets.
We settled for the a la carte menu, rather than the lovely looking set menu that comes complete with matching wines should one wish. Tasting menus are good for two reasons: firstly, they allow the chef to show of his (or indeed here, her) skills; and secondly they take away the element of choice. Now choice is generally a good thing: would I choose to support Arsenal? Of course; which fan of fine footballing skills would think of doing anything else? Would I cover myself in honey and run through an apiary? No. Well, not unless it was for Angelina Jolie. The trouble with Murano is that the menu contains so many of my kind of dishes that making a choice reduces me to Robbie the Robert, fused into a state of incapacity, unable to decide between the myriad right answers.
We pondered this dilemma over a glass of passion fruit bellini and some excellent amuse bouche (surely there is an Italian word for this? Divertire bocca perhaps?). Indeed, so excellent were they that, having seen us devour the first plate, the attentive waiter immediately replenished the parmesan balls with a far healthier portion. The waiting is attentive without being overbearing, the sommelier (again, surely there is an Italian word for this too?) guided us through the wine tome and the head waiter did that really annoying thing of taking everyone’s order without writing it down. And getting it place-perfect.
Finally decide we did, and none of the dishes was anything other than excellent: the pumpkin tortellini was smooth, rich and sweet, with the pasta perfectly al dente and the crumbled amaretti biscuits working far better than it sounds as though it should; the grilled red mullet was a sizeable dish, replete with a smear of basil puree; and the sweetbreads cooked to perfection.
A main course of chicken wings with halibut was an odd, but excellent, combination and the beef fillet a nice slab, cooked as asked atop a mound of berlotti beans. The beef was apparently Casterbridge beef. Now I am no Hardy scholar, but I thought that he made the place up? Whatever, it was lovely: maybe it had been hung for the last 130 years.
Following on from the pre-desert sorbets, the desert-deserts were again all lovely: we were warned that the tiramisu was nothing like we would ever have had before, and the waiter was right. All the ingredients were there (chocolate, mascarpone, coffee, cream etc), but the whole had been deconstructed, with each main flavour having its own place on the plate, leaving you to reconstruct or have separately.
With all the superlatives (the food, the service etc) there are downsides/niggles/downright silliness: the atmosphere, as noted above, is not really there and do you really need three foot high decanters to pour the wine? Yes all very trendy and all that, but the poor pourer practically had to stand at the next table to deliver the wine. These are as mere nothings to the prices. Yes this is Mayfair, yes we had a couple of bottles of wine between us and a cocktail each and yes I know that there are always those little add-ons that add up, but how a £60 per head menu for four of us came to over £160 a head is beyond me. Gawd knows how much it would have been had we been trying to impress our nieces.