Rubbing shoulders with its glamorous neighbours Sexy Fish and Amazonico, 20 Berkeley feels decidedly grown-up in comparison. Styled on an English manor house, it’s comfortable and luxurious while remaining refreshingly unfussy. We’re seated in the Drawing Room upstairs, a refined space of intimate corners, amber tones and wooden furnishings set against dusky greens and leafy plants. The result is a stunning vintage effect that feels both eclectic and thoughtful down to the smallest details.
Even the menu is a piece of art, folded neatly into an origami-style package which, we’re told, is designed to reflect a traditional Victorian love letter. This attention to detail lives on in head chef Ben Orpwood’s dishes, from his meticulous presentation down to the provenance and quality of the ingredients.
We start with a round of warm honey-glazed rolls served with salty Marmite butter, a supreme beginning to any meal. Burrata, made up the road in Ealing, is served with sweet, pickled vegetables to offset its immense creaminess, while a perfect crab and potato salad, formed into a neat little disc, is nuanced and delicious. For main course, flaky cod with a golden crust arrives swimming in various creamy textures, from a sweet pea puree to a light lemon thyme foam. Chocolate fans will delight in the milk chocolate and hazelnut tart, but we urge you to order the apple tarte tatin with Jersey milk ice cream. It’s a deeply wonderful thing of plump, caramelised apples, crisp puff pastry and caramel sauce.
An army of staff swan around the room elegantly all evening, catering attentively to what becomes an extremely busy service. The sommelier also does a fantastic job at pairing wines with our respective mains, including a fruity French Sancerre that slips down all too easily. The prices are a lucid reminder that this is peak-level, high-end dining, but 20 Berkeley’s beautiful interiors, flawless hospitality and exceptional food make it, without a doubt, one of the best restaurants in Mayfair right now.