It might have a French name but this glitzy import’s heart is in New York's Meatpacking District, where the original restaurant is famous for its brunch parties; this London outpost joins existing Bagatelles in Dubai, Miami, Punta del Este and St Barthélemy (among others). Mayfair feels almost dowdy in comparison.
Interiors are much as you’d expect from a restaurant group with such a luxurious heritage. Plush blue velvet booths line the room, intricate chandeliers hang from the ceiling and Damien Hirst artworks scale the walls. Needless to say, this is not somewhere to come in search of a cheap eat: there’s a seafood platter for £450 and a Methuselah of Dom Pérignon will set you back £80,000.
In other ways, though, Bagatelle doesn’t conform to expectations. Just take the (impossibly attractive) staff, who are sweet rather than snooty and very well-versed on the menu. We were also pleasantly surprised by the standard of the cooking – people might be coming here to party, but the food is far better than mere stomach-lining.
The sharing menu kicks off with smaller dishes such as a quartet of tender Angus beef sliders, slathered with decadent toppings including sautéed foie gras and black truffle mayonnaise. Elsewhere are pillowy pellets of homemade gnocchi and a creamy helping of burrata pepped up with fresh tomato.
To follow, diners are encouraged to order one of the larger sharing dishes, which easily fed our party of four. The whole grilled lobster linguine (de-shelled and served at the table) was a decadent treat of seafood chunks and juicy tomatoes entwined in ribbons of soft pasta. Desserts are more low-key; we’d recommend the light-as-air raspberry mousse served with a scoop of pistachio ice cream.
If you want the full, over-the-top Bagatelle experience, it’s best to visit in the latter half of the week, when French-themed parties and raucous brunches are the order of the day. A Mayfair party palace this may be, but it’s one with more substance than you’d expect.