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The Capital Hotel, 22-24 Basil Street
020 7591 1202
Widely accepted as the modern master of British seafood, Nathan Outlaw stepped away from his Cornish home turf to launch in London in 2012. Five years on, and with a Michelin star under its belt, this venue still feels like a well-kept secret. Perhaps the menu lends itself more to the coast than a conservatively attired hotel dining room, or perhaps Londoners want more culinary fireworks, but one thing’s for sure: you won’t find better or fresher seafood in the capital. Our octopus starter paired magnificently with almonds and a sharp sherry vinegar bread sauce, while a glorious thick slab of sea bass came with breadcrumbed oysters, sweet baby leeks and a generous dollop of lime hollandaise. No fireworks, no fripperies: just clean flavours and exemplary technique. After that, elderflower cream with strawberries and verjus maintains the seasonal theme. Service is five-star slick and, to drink, we’d recommend something from founder David Levin’s biodynamic vineyard – perhaps Mr L, a barrel-aged Sauvignon Blanc.
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SquareMeal 2 Stars
The Capital Hotel, 22-24 Basil Street
020 7591 1202
Knightsbridge Tube Station 193m
Hyde Park Corner Tube Station 432m
Harvey Nichols 201m
Mon-Sat 12N-2pm 6.30-10pm
As one of the best places in London to eat fish, it’s no surprise that the private dining menus at Outlaw’s at the Capital major on treats from the sea, whether you go for the three-course menu (£62) or the five-course tasting menu (£85), which can be matched to a wine flight (£70) from The Capital hotel’s famous cellar. Meat eaters and vegetarians won’t go hungry either and, as with the fish and seafood, the kitchen uses the best ingredients from around the British Isles. The two private rooms, The Eaton Suite and The Cadogan Suite, can seat 14 and 24 diners respectively in surroundings of chic luxury.
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 3
Our introduction to this restaurant was in the form of a rather perfunctory welcome, and unfortunately this presaged the situation for the rest of the evening, for, with the notable exception of Alessandro, the excellent sommelier, the staff were rather below the level expected of a one-star restaurant, and inevitably we had to draw an unfavourable comparison with the Port Isaac team. Once we had been seated there was something of a hiatus before we were able to give our order, which was rather a contrast with the swift service of the dishes on the tasting menu, a feature perhaps of this being a hotel restaurant. Luckily there were some nice rosemary bread rolls to supplement the one canapé, smoked cod’s roe on a seeded cracker, but we were soon tucking into the starter, cured fish in the Outlaw tradition. This one was whisky-cured salmon, the whisky to the fore, the saffron kohlrabi accompaniment very good with the salmon and not at all overpowering and the horseradish yoghurt was a nice touch. Although octopus used to be a turn-off for a lot of people we’ve always been keen on it and after ten seconds in the deep-fat frier this version was not bad, along with some cold slices, a useful bread sauce, almonds and a tarragon sauce which came through very well. We are always pleased to have brill which is one of our three top favourites, and here the fresh, tasty fish was boosted by a super deep-fried (again) oyster, a parsley, rocket and mint hollandaise and well cooked kale. Being familiar with the wonderful Porthilly sauce in the Cornwall restaurant our curiosity was raised by the appearance of Port Isaac sauce with the bass dish. The difference between them, this version being darker and with a different taste and consistency, was explained to us as being down to which locality the shellfish were obtained from. The bass was good with a nice crispy skin and was an interesting match with the sauce. We passed on the cheese and the desserts were soon on the table, my wife having a very light custard tart with a lovely gingerbread ice cream and quince, the other being an attractive mix of stout cake, plain chocolate mousse, ice cream and kumquats. Overall we felt that the food was not bad, but the experience was not up to the standard we would expect from such a highly-rated venue.
Food + drink: 4
Outlaw's is a safe bet for business lunch in Knightsbridge. It is quiet a rare commodity around these areas nowadays. It strikes a balance between formality and accessibility. The dining room is small and thus has a certain intimate appeal. The food is technically hard to fault. The lobby could do with a touch up but the whole setup is nice enough to feel high-end and sober enough to have a slight corporate air to it. Service stood out good house wines are available and the overall experience is positive.
OK, the City to Knightsbridge is not a huge trek as the crow flies, but on a warm summer Friday night, anything involving a trip on the tube, seems like an epic expedition. Fortunately, the cool, calm interior of the Capital Hotel came as a very welcome relief. Initially we were offered pre-prandials in the bar, but when it quickly became apparent that there was no room to be had in the bar, we were shown into a room slightly away from the bar/restaurant. Whilst the room itself was pleasant enough, we were the only inhabitants and it felt like we had been banished to the naughty corner! However, the staff did not forget us and we were very well looked after with fizz and nibbles.
The dining room itself is very small and we were lucky that the table that abutted ours was unoccupied, otherwise it may not have been quite the romantic dinner a deux we had planned! However, once the food arrived, all this was forgotten, as this place is all about the food. We both opted for the lobster risotto and were quite relieved to order the same starter otherwise plate envy would have been rife! Whilst the serving was not overly generous, it contained a good amount of lobster and a light hand with the orange flavouring made it wonderfully light and fresh. Oddly for us, we actually ended up swapping our main courses; I much preferred the light and delicate flavouring of the bloke's hake with crab, whereas he preferred the robustness of my grey mullet. Desserts were so-so but think we were still reeling from the starter!
Although three courses is priced at a reasonable £55, once drinks and service were added to our bill we knew that we were in Knightsbridge, but that aside, will definitely return for a special treat.
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