Mauro Colagreco is just one of nine dining destinations to open within the hotly anticipated Old War Office building, also now home to the UK’s first ever Raffles Hotel. The space, like the building it's housed in, is decidedly proper, with a colour palette spanning muted tones, smart white tablecloths and gold accents.
With starting rates for a room at Raffles London fetching no less than £1,100 a night, it comes as no surprise that dinner here doesn’t come cheap either. We opt for the £165 five-course tasting menu, but there’s also a £110 three-courser and a relatively cheap £60 set lunch for the taking. Quips aside, the food is really rather wonderful. A quartet of vegetable-focused snacks soon appears, including a cylindrical bite filled with a chunky mushroom parfait, and a beautifully delicate celeriac taco. If it wasn’t already clear, Mauro’s cooking centres around Britain’s bounty, with each dish placing a seasonal vegetable at the fore. An inventive way with lettuce, for example, hides flaky pieces of smoked fish and crisp sesame brittle between its leaves, before being finished with a creamy vermouth sauce.
Not listed on the menu, but absolutely worth a mention, is a warm loaf of scone-like bread, which produces bellows of hot steam as we rip it apart and forms a pleasant crisp exterior while it cools at the table. The most delicious dish was one of soft, meaty monkfish, served with plumes of buttery Jerusalem artichoke puree, crunchy roasted hazelnuts and tender wild mushrooms.
Wine aficionados will find plenty to occupy them on the dizzyingly long wine list, although for us muggles who require a little extra help, there’s a proficient sommelier on hand to guide you through its pages. Indeed, a Portuguese Nossa Calcário Branco delivered the ‘something dry and light’ we asked for, with lots of minerality and a touch of smokiness on the palate.
There’s no denying that Mauro’s cooking is laced with technical ability and creative prowess. Is it for everyone? No. But for the price you pay, there’s a huge amount of value included in the entire dining experience.