16 December 2013
Petrus is one of those under rated restaurants – its not somewhere you’d automatically choose to go to, nor is it mentioned in the list of great places in London, but it should be; at least for the food and service.
Let’s start with the negatives.
There is a distinct lack of atmosphere. On a Friday night, just a few days before Christmas, whilst it was pretty much full by 8pm a library would be vibrant in comparison. There is no music and everyone seems to whisper as though afraid to speak up. The curved design of the restaurant – set round a very impressive collection of wine bottles – maybe doesn’t help as you can’t see across the room and there is no view to stimulate conversation (its on a residential street), but honestly I’ve been at more buzzy funerals.
The other negative is the price of drinks – or more specifically bottles of wine. Whilst a restaurant named after a particularly prohibitively expensive red is always going to have a decent list there is little that is affordable. Clearly we weren’t in the market for the bottles that push towards £40,000 (and no that’s not a typo), but even trying to find anything for much under £100 is a task. As it turned out we managed to find a very nice white Santenay for ‘only’ £82 per bottle. However, at least other drinks such as a gin and tonic are far more reasonably priced, and also cheaper than many similar places in the area, but it’s somewhere you’ll leave with quite a high level of sobriety unless you’ve won the lottery.
Having said that I didn’t think – apart from wine – that value for money was too bad. Three courses are £65 per head, and whilst anything like that is a little subjective, given the quality of the food and service and what you’ll pay in other top end places that didn’t seem too unreasonable. In total, with the expensive wine, excellent service, water and another drink each the bill came to around £110 per head.
The service is fantastic. If you were being picky you’d maybe argue there was a slightly long wait between courses, but otherwise it’s so polished as to positively gleam. Everyone is so polite and switched on, nothing is a problem and there aren’t any errors. You wish that all the restaurant staff in London could do their training here as it would make the experience better for dinners everywhere.
But the real stand out is the food. And if that was what got a restaurant its Michelin stars then I don’t know how this hasn’t got more than just one as it’s definitely better than Marcus Wareing.
After some amazing soda bread, both white and brown, served warm with spreadable (why do most places give you butter that you’d need a hacksaw to cut?) salted butter and a pre starter of white onion veloute and some pre-pre starters of tiny bite sized canapés I started properly with lobster and salmon ravioli with creamed leeks in a champagne and chive veloute; simply wonderful starter – lots of flavours, amazing pasta. This was followed by suckling pig belly with pork fillet and apple – my only regret there wasn’t more of it as the flavours were incredible and whilst pork belly is normally fatty and sometime stodgy this was even better than the one they do at L’anima; so light, but with the crispest and thinnest crackling ever. Dessert was banana millefeuille with peanut ice cream; the pastry was incredible and the peanut ice cream light and full of taste.
It’s the best meal I’ve eaten all year and one of the best I’ve ever eaten and I simply couldn’t fault it. And everyone else I went with thought everything – across a variety of choices – was perfect. So has to get top marks.
The key question – would we go back? No hesitation – I’d far rather go here than lots of the other, so called, top end restaurants in London. So if you are looking for somewhere with faultless food and service get yourself along here.