Occupying the west wing of Somerset House, Skye Gyngell’s Spring starts with the advantage of a beautifully calming space, enhanced by a clever and sympathetic interior. The lofty ceilings, the many shades of white, the artful wall sculptures, even the Japanese-influenced staff uniforms all add to the mood of peaceful serenity.
The kitchen uses sustainably produced and ethically sound ingredients for seasonal dishes that are “modern, fresh and different enough to feel exciting”– as in in a starter of perfectly ripe peach, sweetened with honey, perfumed with rosewater and given a savoury, salty kick with Culatello ham or a carpaccio of sea bass dressed with a salsa of cucumber and green tomatoes, corn, chilli and lime.
Stick to the simple main courses to get the best from the kitchen – a generous chunk of steamed turbot served on a bed of cucumber with an exemplary béarnaise is as unfussy as can be, yet delivers a lovely balance. So too does fillet steak (served Italian style with salsa verde), though perfectly grilled lamb cutlets with aubergine gratin somehow lose their intensity through the build-up of herbs and spices.
To conclude, there’s a choice of straightforward desserts: bitter chocolate cake with coffee ice cream; treacle tart; warm ginger and rhubarb pudding. The wine list promises an enlightened world tour with fair mark-ups, but also check out the zesty cocktails and homemade tonics.
While the main repertoire is both elegant and wholesome, Skye Gyngell has taken the sustainable ethos to another level for pre-theatre deals. Arrive between 5.30pm and 6.30pm for the ‘scratch menu’, which utilises ingredients that would otherwise have gone to waste. The menu is not designed to be fancy or complicated, rather think organic ingredients such as beetroot tops and potato skins turned into simple soups or yesterday's bread transformed into warm bread pudding served with a spoonful of last year’s gooseberry jam.At £25 a head, this is a steal, and the feel-good factor is priceless.