Berners Tavern at The London Edition 333

  • The interior at Berners Tavern
  • The bar at Berners Tavern
  • Jason Atherton at Berners Tavern
  • Half native lobster with mayonnaise fennel and dill - Berners Tavern
  • Crispy Moroccan lamb - Berners Tavern
  • Diver scallop crudo - Berners Tavern, London
  • Jerusalem artichoke risotto - Berners Tavern at the London Edition
  • Roasted stone bass, Berners Tavern in London

SquareMeal Review of Berners Tavern at The London Edition

SquareMeal London Hot 100 2018“I love this place!” chimes one reader – and rightly so. Jason Atherton’s 21st-century reinvention of hotel dining has made Berners Tavern one of the hottest tickets in town. Sporting “the most beautiful dining room in London” (think towering ceilings, mosaics, gilt-framed oil paintings and a soaring, yellow-lit bar), this place oozes glamour, pizzazz and grandeur, without feeling remotely “stuffy”. There are many foodie triumphs here, although the reimagining of the hotel dining-room trolley is one to really savour – watch as a giant, perfectly cooked pork pie is sliced tableside and artfully arranged with pickled carrots, fennel, piccalilli and mustards. Other classic British options include the “best prawn cocktail ever” (loaded with sweet lobster jelly, avocado and crispy shallots), but the menu’s versatility ranges from gloriously indulgent five-cheese macaroni topped with slow-cooked beef blade (“to die for”) to roast Cornish cod with crispy squid, basil fregola and soothing tomato consommé. For a final touch of theatre, go for the buttermilk Alaska, finished with flaming liquor, soft hunks of rhubarb and pistachio. Service at Berners Tavern is “second to none” – as we’ve come to expect from Mr Atherton. 

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8.4

Food & Drink: 8.0

Service: 8.3

Atmosphere: 8.3

Value: 7.3

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 1.0

AntiShearing 11 December 2015

Oh dear, Dear Reader, this place has annoyed me to the point I need catharsis.....I feel like I did when Conran's restaurant margins were exposed - politely violated. Grand room, "work of art" (GQ ragazine), pretty people, "an utterly glamorous experience" (Time Out) blah blah blah.... At 37, I feel too old for the nominally down-to-earth Berners "Tavern." It's not a work of art - ha ha ha. Sure the cornicing and decorative plasterwork on the ceiling is pretty, but who knows what the detail is like, it's so far away. (Also, pop over to the City where re-purposed banking halls are ten a penny). As for the 'art' on the walls, which fills every square inch, it's oppressive and forgettable. The flattering lighting makes it hard to appreciate the 'art' - and - bonus - harder for a prospective date to see how ugly I am! But the most important point to note about the interior design is.....sigh....not a soft furnishing in sight, so the din on a fairly busy Thursday night made it impossible to talk to one's companion across a 2-seater table without raising one's voice to the point of coughing. High ceilings with no dampeners simply amplify everything. Is up-tempo music required for a place to be trendy? Or just so that we digest quickly enough to meet the infamous "2hr" table time-limit? Now don't get me started on 2hr time limits. Are we all so desperate to eat in trendy places that we simply put up with this one-sided limit to pleasure? It's not as if the risk is shared between diner and establishment - if 'they' want to they can kick you off the table, quoting the oft-mentioned policy, after two hours; but can we contract to pay more and stay? Or even leave without spending a penny? (Note the sharp £50/head, <24hrs cancellation policy for tables of 4 or more). BTW, on bladders, the 2 x pissoirs, and 2 x traps leads - in this busy place - to the rare sighting of a queue......for the gents! Nice soap though. Anyways, on no fewer than 4 times did the uncoordinated multiple waiting staff to our table remind me of the time limit while I was waiting for my companion, and while we were reading the menu. Once is enough. Spread the word.....amongst your fellow waiters. Team. So much for the atmosphere. Sorry, did you hear that, "I SAID, SO MUCH FOR....." etc On to the food, and a menu which must at some point have been waved through by Midas Atherton. It's dull. There's nothing on it you haven't seen before. Zsuzhed-up (Is that how Lawrence L-B spells it?) classics but, they're easy to cook, stingy, and overpriced - a triple fail. Twenty quid for the crab starter! Read that again. Now note that one layer of white crab meat bits is presented on top of a shredded lettuce, apple and coriander salad which fills out the crab shell; there's a dollop of brown meat mayo on top (because you gotta get some flavour from somewhere lol). But I'd guess that one little colchester crab could make two (mebs 3?) of these stingy starters with plenty of brown meat left over, and they're a fiver retail. So just think about that gross margin for a second, 90-95%? Moreover, it was absolutely nothing special - completely forgettable as neither perceptibly super-fresh, nor particularly interestingly spiced etc. Fortunately my lamb main course was 'only' £5 more at £25. The "rump" was perfectly med-rare, but again....stingy. I'm not a butcher, but I think this tender, lean piece of meat has other names, and often one gets the whole piece. But this seemed to be a 'half' - presented with the cut/med-rare centre open for viewing.....but without the piece previously cut-off! (I think I spotted my platonic 'other half' being served at the next table). So it's about 2-3 cubic inches.....under-seasoned (bland), with a bit of sinew (grade A??), and the non-crisped layer of external fat left on. GCSE cooking. Fortunately the slow cooked neck meat was tasty - though to be honest, hard to mess up given enough time. This second piece was about the size of a half-smoked robusto. One leaf of cavolo nero linked the two pieces of protein, and a slick of slightly odd minty, apple-y (?) sauce added....er....washed out colour. By far the star of this dish was the accompanying barley and root risotto - tasty and good texture. So, value? No. As bad as the crab? No. Oh, this is probably the moment to mention the bread'n'butter - so often the initial star of a meal since King&Corbin started producing those warm french flour batons with salty butter at their places. Well, the Berners' offering was lacklustre - average, slightly tired crust sourdough with....shock.....unsalted butter I think. Next! I was still hungry by dessert time, and fancied filling cheese. But the risk of melon-ball sized portions of British Classics with "a modern twist" (Esquire Ragazine) for £12 was too great; so I chose the "apple caramel eclair, calvados cream, salted caramel ice cream." Not much to say really. Ronseal. There was quite a bit of cream filling, perhaps a bit too light and whipped, and it could have done with a more calvados for my tastebuds. The ice cream was definitely salty - tarts' umami favourite circa 2005. (BTW - I'm sure your fed up of the myriad inferioir variations on Artisan de Chocolat's early-mover liquid salted caramels, and genetic freaks such as salted caramel 'spread,' but do try the Somerset Cider Brandy Company's apple LSCs. The choc is ok - and probably should be better for Willies Cacao - but apple works). Now back to the tale. We wanted a glass of white and a bottle of red. I chose the familiar Martin Codax Albarino (a short-tenner in Majestic), which was about a tenner for a glass - the familiar restaurant de-risking price point. But actually I suspect the wholesale price is probably £6-7/bt so really it's an 80-90% margin which - though I'm not a drinks industry expert - seems on the higher side to me. For the red we chose Minervois La Liviniere - mostly because the La Liviniere Commune's imprimateur pretty much ensures quality, and is unusual. The bottle was £58 (plus the optional 'service' don't forget) - so not too crazy for a list which, on skimming seemed to offer only about half a dozen wines below £40ish, and with a modal average around £60-70? Only problem.....the 'vielles vignes' version from the same producer is on offer in Waitrose at £8.24/ bt (normally a tenner), so the margin is morbidly easy to work out. Incidentally, I apologise for all this boring talk of margins. Eating out is an experience and who's to judge what it's worth to you compared with me? Make your own mind up about the non-food stuff if you find too much dissonance between my version and everyone else's Emperor's new clothes, but the points I make about 'value' are pretty-much objective. I will say there are plenty of staff, so maybe the net margin is less egregious? Can't remember whether the service was 'optional' but by the time the £225 bill arrived (coffees £4, side new pots £4), I couldn't be a5sed to say anything until.....the waiter went tip-fishing by pointing out that he had done stuff to take the pressure off our 2hr table-turn time. Phew! Obviously charity, and nothing to do with weak demand from high-paying pretty people. But the delivery was gauche, and the effect like reminding one about a Sword of Damocles which I had already forgotten. On leaving, I made the mistake of being honest with the innocent reception person who had casually asked how the meal was. Uh oh. Sorry JJ, I never listen - why can't I get it into my brain that no-one cares? You had a good time didn't you? Amongst all these pretty non-working people. Who don't know the price of a pint of milk. Can you tell I'm a huge fan of Schrager? So what's the conclusion? It's a "tavern" man! Look, see, no tablecloths! Yet, to paraphrase Vic Reeves, the food is presented in the chic style (frou frou small portions), the music is clubby, and the pricing high. Is this a terribly clever way of mashing "expensive" with "casual"? Or just another margin pi55-take? Decide for yourself! (Though I'd recommend you skip). Oh, and the answer is 45p so you can s0d off! And now in a new feature for this reviewer: Good for: loud-voiced, pretty, 1%-ers, with no interest in honesty or value, but with damaged egos needing to be seen in last year's hottest opening. Not good for: anyone who understands value, likes to hold a conversation at a normal volume, and wants to see what Mr Atherton is capable of (surely it's more than this). Merry Christmas!

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Hugh F. 13 November 2015

We only decided to go here on the morning and had to take a 12 noon reservation. Being the first diners in the restaurant gave us a good opportunity to take in the surroundings. Despite the size and grandeur the welcome quickly overcame any reticence about feeling isolated. Excellent service, everything we ordered was exactly as we hoped. Prawn Cocktail with Lobster Jelly particularly good and a 10oz Josper grilled rib eye with bearnaise precisely cooked and full of flavour. Not the most adventurous menu choice but precisely what we wanted. A safe choice for any sort of occasion in a truly grand dining room.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

Gourmand Gunno platinum reviewer 03 September 2015

Jason Atherton (probably along with Alan Yau) seems to be the chef-du-jour on the London scene at present and almost everything he touches appears to turn to gold. Berners Tavern is no exception. One can’t help but fall in love with the venue, perhaps best described as a work of art. Although situated within the London Edition hotel, Berners has its own entrance and feels about as far removed from a hotel dining room as possible. Formerly a private residence, the original high ceiling and ornate cornicing has been preserved, while the walls are bedecked with gilt-framed artworks, both contemporary and traditional. However much one might marvel at the room, it is far from a ruse to distract diners from the food. Atherton’s team deploys a formula similar to that which garnered Pollen Street Social so many plaudits, namely a relatively short and simple menu of modern English/French dishes prepared with high-quality ingredients. Presentation throughout was also superb. I savoured every mouthful of my beetroot-cured salmon starter. The addition of macadamia nuts to the dish was also a stroke of genius and added a novel texture. My comrade also praised highly his choice of prawn cocktail, noting the subtle addition of lobster jelly to this quite traditional dish. Onto the mains, any my roasted rabbit loin proved excellent, with the meat enhanced by rabbit Bolognese, available to add from a little gravy boat on the side – a nice touch. The risotto chosen by my comrade also worked and again here, the ‘base’ of the meal (i.e. the vegetables) was presented on the plate with the rice added from a separate dish to the side. The wines also pleased and were reasonably priced, although we both lamented the absence of carafes from the menu, guests therefore being forced either to choose just a glass or a bottle. Many good restaurants miss a trick in this respect, especially when considering the lunchtime trade. If there were one quibble, then it might be service. Being such a large (and busy) venue, it was hard to attract servers’ attention and waiting time may be an issue for the more impatient. This can be rectified though. Berners Tavern is not quite excellent, but it is certainly very good.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Natalia P. gold reviewer 07 April 2015

I have visited the venue many times and it is always a very pleasant experience. Food is always good and prepared creatively. Food portions are also good. Very good wine and cocktail list. The downside of this visit was to do with customer service. - 2 hour turn around rule, which really spoils ones dining experience when the first thing a waiter tells you is that he/ she wants you out in two hours! - the waiter took our guests coat but never gave them a ticket for it, so at the end of our meal we had to wait for the staff to find the cost and when they failed to find it, had to go and help them look for it.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

squaremale silver reviewer 23 October 2014

We went on a Wednesday evening. The service in the main bar was atrocious. The service in the restaurant was better, friendly and efficient, apart from their obvious desire to turn your table as quickly as possible - starters arrived before the wine and there was zero gap between our starter dishes being cleared and the main arriving. And wine is poured frequently to make sure you either clear the table early or get another bottle. I often tell the waiting staff I'll pour my own wine, but you don't want every dining experience to feel like a battle - and at this sort of place where you have about a dozen different people waiting on your table it's not easy to control without eyes in the back of your head! Anyway, all of that would be less of an issue if the food was good, which ours wasn't. I had a starter of what purported to be pig's head, foie gras and black pudding, and what arrived was a thin, fried disc of nothing discernable, slightly larger than a £2 coin but probably no thicker - the result being it tasted of nothing other than the oil it had been fried in. Very disappointing. My guest had the prawn and lobster cocktail, which she said was fine - but the presentation would have been matched by an average pub. And then, for £77, we shared a large piece of gristle attached to a bone. The sauces (peppercorn and bearnaise) had thick skins on them from having been left lying around in the kitchen, among dozens of others no doubt, and were also lacking in taste and punch - Maille sell much better sauces in jars and I suggest you take you own if you go here. They forgot to bring the separately ordered side. The chips are good - but so they are at my local chippy. The room itself is stunning and I'm glad I've been there for that alone.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

Natalia P. gold reviewer 08 May 2014

This is a very pleasant venue, decor is amazing and guaranteed to make an impression I have now been twice to this restaurant and both times the feedback is the same: Starters and the mains are great – tasty, creative, beautifully presented, well priced, arrives really quickly Desserts for some reason do not appeal tho. Drinks – it always takes them ages to come to take your drinks order and if you order a bottle of wine, it is always after your starter arrives, very peculiar, not sure why this happens! On the whole, if you are prepared to overlook these minor details, definitely worth a visit.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 4.0

Adam Y. 28 March 2014

Had lunch with a long-standing client yesterday, for the 1st time at BT. Fantastic experience. It wasn't just style over substance (although the style/room is impressive) as the food was very good, and for some dishes “amazing”. Dessert was a point in case. There was a chocolate rice pudding on the menu which had a high risk factor, but was amazing. it was a shame the helping wasn't larger as my guest loved it too! Service was good, although tapered off a little towards end of the meal but small quibble. Prices weren't OTT. Oh, and had a “celebrity” spot, Nick Grimshaw. Brilliant!

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

GH platinum reviewer 21 March 2014

Large dining room with high ceiling and lots of grandeur with a mix of dressy and casual. Buzzy bar. Food is good. Attentive service. Perfect for night put after work or planning an evening out.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

victor t. 05 March 2014

My wife and I had lunch here ,which in my opinion could not be beaten,my only gripe is dont serve doubles unless asked for.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 4.0

Tina M. 05 February 2014

Atmosphere is fantastic attracting all ages. Decor is stunning, mixing old style with modern creating a truly unique dinning experience.

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Private Dining Room
Capacity: 14