We've had some very good lunches in the last few months, including one that we thought was the best ever. Well, Fera was right up there with the best. And, after this, and following our recent disappointments in starred venues in the north-west, we are coming to the conclusion that there are more and more reasons for indulging in the highest quality of fine dining in London and more or less giving up engaging in wearisome journeys to the rest of the country (with the notable exceptions of Port Isaac, Bray, Amersham and Oxton). Here at Claridges, once you've found and negotiated the dark and unimpressive entrance to the dining room, you are treated to the impressive Grand Room with all its art deco charm and the wonderful glass panels in the ceiling, the very professional and properly interactive staff make you feel very welcome and the atmosphere is immediately one of relaxed class. In addition, and unlike our bad luck elsewhere a couple of weeks before, there were two top chefs present, Dan Cox and David Simms, ensuring that the highest standards were achieved and maintained throughout. The tasting menu comes at a London price level, but in our opinion is well worth the money, and the wine flight comprises a series of well-chosen, perfectly matching organic selections in accordance with the Rogan philosophy. We started with an English organic fizz, the Davenport from West Sussex, opted for the tasting menu and sat back to enjoy what promised to be a belter judging from our initial exchanges with our two main interlocutors, Toni on food and Alessia on drink, and from the light, palate-provoking rosemary wafer with elderflower jelly and cream we sampled with the fizz. Given that it was lunchtime and that we were going to be getting four types of amuse-bouche, four starters, two mains, two desserts and three mignardises, we were a bit apprehensive at the possibility of a lunchtime tempo, but not a bit of it. Mind you it was four hours later that we left, having had an instructive visit to the kitchen, whence a stupendous sequence of dishes had emerged giving rise to an unremitting sequence of words of pleasure such as we remembered pronouncing on our first visit to L'enclume. The plates were all beautifully presented works of art which individually and in their ensemble made perfect sense and made for a perfect all-round balance throughout the meal so that we left the restaurant replete but not overstuffed and already recalling the masterly contrasts and accords of the three Ts - tastes, textures and temperatures - we had savoured. The light, warm rabbit faux Scotch eggs in mild onion crumbs were terrific and enhanced by a beautiful lovage cream; the fish roe cream decorated with nasturtium leaves on seaweed was out of this world; the delicate beef tendon and onion puff was sweet and light; the quirky sweet and earthy beetroot soup with freeze-dried yoghurt and contrasting oxalis leaf was a fitting climax to the first courses. The first starter was a perfect stage for asparagus with asparagus juice poured on smoked egg yolk and salty crispy ham making a perfect partner along with surprising pickled mushrooms and some minty perilla; then came tender raw veal wrapped in kohlrabi and oyster and apple jus the acidity of which was surprisingly softened by the veal and neatly finished off with apple marigold from the Cartmel farm. We found inestimable pleasure in what sounded like a prosaic vegetarian dish described as grilled salad smoked over embers, Isle of Mull, truffle custard and sunflower seeds, but actually crispy smoky lettuce leaves nestled in cheese sauce, truffled cauliflower and broccoli, and the truffle custard just blew your mind! No wonder it was the star dish at the 2012 Great British Menu banquet! The first main was a turbot dish that had more artistic validity than any recent Turner Prize entry and the fish, finished in the pan after the water bath, with its mussel companion, courgette and courgette flower, complements of sea lettuce, fennel and rapeseed and an amazing tomato granola was definitiely worth a prize. Curiously, we found the à point Cornish lamb far more to our taste than its Cumbrian cousin which we had at L'enclume, possibly because it had more taste, especially the marvellous sweetbread, and also because the sheep's milk yoghurt and emulsion, the lovely white asparagus, the ramsons and the allium somehow produced a more rounded dish. The desserts were gorgeous, the brilliant honeycomb with pear in a superb combination with lemon thyme, and perfect strawberries with cicely custard, and a counterpoint of sorrel and buttermilk crunch rounded off our splendid meal. And, finally, excellence of this lunch emphasised a point that we have become convinced of, namely that anyone associated with the restaurant trade and any self-respecting foodie will be justifiably certain that fine dining in the UK is at least as good as it is in France, but the number of starred restaurants in the former is a disproportionately low one quarter of those in the latter. It is time Michelin recognised that it is out of step with reality, started promoting the UK scene and had the courage to award a significantly greater number of stars at all three levels.