SERGE HAS PERMANENTLY CLOSED
Located inside the achingly cool Mandrake Hotel, Serge has benefited from an update less than a year after opening. Not only has the ‘et le phoque’ been thankfully minimised in its branding, but the menu has been reinvigorated, moving from broadly French to broadly Spanish, with a strong emphasis on the Mediterranean roots of the chef.
The highly on-trend decor and soundtrack remain, yet despite this, staff are refreshingly friendly and unpretentious. Nonetheless, it is the food and drink that do the talking here. Diners get to choose from a well-conceived menu, conveniently divided into starters followed by earth, sea and land-based options. Almost everything we sampled sang. A plate of wonderfully moist jamón ibérico accompanied by pickled almonds set the bar high, but we were even more impressed by a dish of seared scallop served (in a flash of beautiful originality) with peach and artichoke. Duck breast teamed with cherry and endive showed similar flair over ingredient combination. Not everything pleased: a sea bream and pineapple ceviche was underwhelming; and the suckling pig lacked flavour. However, very fair pricing encourages diners to experiment.
Add to the mix a range of seasonal cocktails and an intelligently constructed wine list (from an ex-Clove Club sommelier) and there’s little not to like here. Take note, though: the toilets are almost impossible to find, situated outside the restaurant in the hotel’s labyrinthine basement.