Berkeley Square has long been the playground for London’s international super-rich, but behind all the flash and cash it’s often forgotten that there’s some very good cooking going on. The latest global brand to join the likes of Nobu and Novikov is Amazonico, which arrives via an original in Madrid where Cristiano Ronaldo is a regular. Husband-and-wife owners Sandro Silva and Marta Seco clearly think they can repeat the trick in London, having relocated to the UK and sunk £13m into this outlandish approximation of South America.
First impressions aren’t encouraging. The jumpsuit-clad hostesses on the front desk seemed overwhelmed by the queue for the cloakroom, the bar was heaving with suntans in suits knocking back cocktails while nodding to the DJ and the sheer scale of the restaurant behind makes you wonder how consistent quality can be in a venue with a 300 capacity.
But give yourself over to the ludicrous spectacle and sensory overload of it all – ornamental peacocks, pineapples spinning on a rotisserie, a live jazz band and more greenery than a glasshouse at Kew – and Amazonico’s hallucinatory spell will work on you as powerfully as a cup of ayahuasca.
It helps that the restaurant has two aces up its sleeve. The attentive service from the good-looking staff is tremendous, and the food is consistently delicious. Silva and Seco have launched Amazonico in partnership with d.Ream International, the group behind Coya and Zuma who already know a thing or two about ceviche, sushi and steak.
The menu kicks off with salads and raw fish. Palm hearts come with fennel and cucumber and a well-judged sweet and sour dressing, stone bass ceviche gets an equally flattering avocado cream sauce or, if you’re in search of some carbs, there are robustly flavoured baked chicken rolls to dunk into a mint and yoghurt dip.
But it’s with grilled fish and meat main courses that the kitchen really excels. Sweet and succulent scarlet prawns display not only fastidious sourcing but chefs who know how to handle high-end ingredients, while melt-in-the-mouth rump steak was one of the best pieces of beef we’ve had for some time.
Side orders keep to the South American theme with creamy mashed corn or a lovely plate of grilled cabbage with cashew, garlic cream and kumquats while, if you make it as far as dessert, there’s a hot chocolate fondant with avocado ice cream that is far nicer than it sounds.
Amazonico isn’t subtle in any sense and if the idea of partying with the 1% isn’t your idea of a good time then you need to walk on by. But come with an open mind, a group of mates and money to burn and Amazonico is the most fun you can have in Mayfair right now.