Chefs don’t come much higher in the stardom rankings than Mauro Colagreco, the chef patron of peerless three Michelin-starred Mirazur in the Cote d’Azur. Colagreco is the latest in a line of global superstar pan-rattlers to arrive in London, and his new digs are suitably sophisticated. For context, the renovations at Whitehall’s Old War Office (or OWO as it is now) include a gigantic lobby chandelier that took a year to build, and the painstaking reconstruction of hundreds of metres of mosaic, each tile of which had to be individually numbered and restored.
With all that work comes a great deal of expectation. Colagreco has three restaurants within Raffles at the OWO - Saison is the most accessible of the three, designed to be an all-day restaurant that showcases the Argentine’s philosophy of championing hyper-local, hyper-seasonal ingredients.
Light pours through the skylight overhead, and down into the restaurant, who’s trees and trellises give Saison the feel of an airy Mediterranean terrace. This is certainly the most relaxed of the Colagreco restaurant trio, but the location comes with a certain level of formality, from the neatly-pressed tablecloths to besuited and very attentive service.
The cooking is precise and measured throughout, with great care taken over the balance of dishes. A starter of quail is beautifully cooked, but it’s the accompaniments that lift it to another level - a dressing of smoked chestnut, grape, clementine and pistachio that pulls you gently from sweet to sour and smoky. The thighs have been deboned - another small detail that yields great relief. Then there’s a tranche of halibut, blanketed under a citrus beurre blanc and served with the silkiest of artichoke mousselines. Saison even has time to show off with a classic, in the form of an outstanding and pixel-perfect tiramisu.
There’s no questioning the quality of the cooking here, but expect prices to match. The halibut (admittedly the most expensive dish on the menu) was £56 at the time of writing. There are more affordable options, though, and the cooking is just as excellent, making Saison a very welcome addition to Westminster.