Find and book great restaurantsFind a Restaurant
See more Editor’s Picks
|Address:||43 Elystan Street, London SW3 3NT|
|Tel:||020 3641 8300|
|Price: £68.00||Wine: £24.00||Champagne: £60.00|
|Opening Hours:||Tues-Fri 12N-2.30pm Tues-Sat 6.45-10.45pm|
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
What are the qualities that make an ideal restaurant? Well, dining there should feel like a glamorous treat, perhaps even a secret one; you should be attended to by grown-up staff as if you were their most important customer of the day; you should dine on food that looks extraordinary and tastes extraordinary, and that requires not just a chef but a brigade to prepare; and all this should take place in a room that has been designed and furnished by someone with impeccable taste, zealous attention to detail and a little bit of wit. Tom Aikens ticks all those boxes.
My visit was for a business lunch on a Tuesday. There were only four tables occupied in the place (including Matthew Fort) and they seated us nicely, well away from everyone else. First came an amuse of cod brandade with homemade crisps – the brandade outrageously creamy and unctuous. Then after we ordered came five different types of freshly-baked bread rolls (served in a charming little hessian sack): one made with polenta, another flavoured with ceps, and a glazed brioche with bacon and shallots which my companion, a visiting Australian TV executive, cruelly snatched. These were accompanied by three types of flavoured butter, and were absolutely top-notch: what better way to put you in the mood for your meal?
My starter of beetroot was quite the best-looking dish I've ever been offered in a restaurant: a riot of vivid colours and textures, the beetroot prepared three ways: roasted in a wood oven, pickled, and jellied then wrapped around a tube of goat curd. Also present were pickled blackberries and cherries, and – amazingly – a small chunk of honeycomb. Sweet and sour and pungent herb flavours combined in a mystical way that was sensational. My friend ordered foie gras: first the accompaniments arrived on a plate, and then with a little bit of theatre the foie gras arrived in its own glass box from which the maitre d' passed it on to the dish – it wobbled sensationally on the spoon as he served it. My companion pronounced it the best he'd ever had.
Mains were roast pigeon breast for me, served with heritage carrots ('heritage' is a trendy restaurant word for vegetables that are pig-ugly) and root vegetables; for him, John Dory with borlotti beans and shrimp heads for garnish. Mine was somewhat peasant-like in presentation, but his looked like the centrepiece on the top table at a wedding. Again, superlative flavours, sauces and tiny details offering extra tastes.
We skipped dessert but they brought a tray of petits fours with our coffees, including a blackcurrant jelly, a warm, marshmallow-y ricotta dumpling and a tiny round carrot cake. Thankfully my companion was full by this stage and I was rightfully able to claim the carrot cake all to myself; it was wonderfully sweet and rich and possessed of a gorgeous crumb.
I gave 8/10 for value because the bill came to £129 for two incl service and we only had starters, mains, a half bottle of wine and coffees. That is not to say it is overpriced – a restaurant like this is so rare that they can charge accordingly – but rather that I couldn't praise them for the keenness of their pricing.
Can't wait to return for a tasting menu.