I’ve long been a fan of Jason Atherton’s philosophy of creating restaurants that totally suit the location, associated clientèle, having a sense of accessible fun dining and in my opinion a marvel of contemporary British cooking. Who can dispute this after working alongside the likes of Pierre Koffman, Marco Pierre White, Nico Ladenis and Farran Adria at the great el Bulli? And this is all before he joined the big sweary Gordon in 2001 who I’m sure many will agree provided a great platform for chef-restaurateur Atherton for gastronomic dominance when he decided to go it alone. This dazzling gem opened up in the Autumn of 2013, based in the West End pretty much rubbing shoulders with his other playful ventures Little Social and the Social Eating House. My first impression was that I’d never seen a dining room as grand, elegant and as opulent as this! Think vast, high decorative ceilings, chandeliers, fabulous art work with a cocktail bar to match and you’ll be getting a smidgen of how glamorous it is. I’m hoping the food is going to match up too?!
Here’s a lovely view of where we sat, it should give you a perspective of how much class it oozes:
We kick proceedings off with native rock oysters. They were delicious, perfectly morish, a hint of brine, wonderful texture and totally enhanced with the shallot vinaigrette.
You’d get 6 for 14 quid.
The charred Cornish mackerel, fennel, carrot and orange salad, romesco sauce, toasted almonds wasn’t too shabby either. The dish just worked so well, the citrus cutting into the oily fish, the fennel providing a beautiful fresh aniseed dose, with that sweet creamy romesco and almond crunch. A prefect balance of texture and flavour – a steal at 12 quid.
Aged beef tartare, wild garlic, salsa verde, chopped duck egg, croutons. This has everything you’d expect from a tartare, the soft flavourful beef was perfectly complimented by the sharpness of the dressing, capers and richness of the duck egg. 13.5 of your finest pounds for this dish.
Now onto the mains – Chargrilled Dingley Dell pork chop, pickled kohlrabi, apple, and chicory salad, Bramley apple and Colman’s mustard puree, crispy cheek. I kid you not this is pork commodity at it’s finest – the sweetness of the puree with a hint of mustard was the ideal accompaniment to the juicy chop that was cooked perfectly. Crispy, smoky cheek with peppery, bitterness of the chicory and sharp tones of the crunchy kohlrabi just topped it all off. I was seduced from the first mouthful. A steal at 24 quid. There is one unforgivable ‘BUT’ though as this dish is no longer available. Jason, if you or any of your disciples are reading this, put it back on the menu!
Cornish cod, Borlotti bean, courgette and chorizo “minestrone”, piquillo pepper. This dish was delicious, a perfectly caramelised piece of cod with the added sweetness of the piquillo and smokiness of the chorizo just worked well.
A few days ago feeling totally ravenous with another diner I went back for a 2nd visit and made a bee-line (skipping starters!) for the Lake District chateaubriand, macaroni and cheese, braised ox cheek. The chateaubriand is thick end of the tenderloin fillet in case you’re wondering, aka the most tender end! At 90 pounds a pop this fit for 2 people – you’ll get 2 cuts of beef below per head and wait for it….. The most unctuous mac and cheese you’ll ever taste with caramelised ox cheek. The dish was super rich, super oozy, super tasty – my mouth is watering from writing this!
Some side orders worth mentioning were the roasted chantenay carrots with smoked garlic, the triple cooked chips and chard with garlic. The carrots were a delight, so sweet, roasted perfectly to enhance their flavour and packed a punch of smoky garlic. And let me tell you if you ever need a lesson in triple cooked chips look no further, perfect outer crunch with the most fluffy soft centre. The chard was lovely too, cooked in butter and garlic, it was the perfect accompaniment to the chateaubriand.
Here are a couple of the wines we chose – they were both super elegant, fruity and just married so well with the dishes.
It’s worth noting as well that that the cocktail bar isn’t just for show, it comes with substance too, packed with an excellent variety of spirits, the bartenders were very knowledgeable, friendly and more importantly they are great mixologists. I enjoyed my classic white lady, a lot, so much so I kept ordering them!
For desert I chose the toasted crème brúlèe, pineapple, coconut and malibu, sorbet. As you can see it’s presented differently to your ubiquitous ramekin, a gorgeous slab of brùlèe which was rich, creamy yet light, sandwiched nicely between the sweet meaty flesh of the pineapple and the fresh coconut sorbet. Excuse the cliche but this is food porn at its finest!
Don’t forget to order the macaroons too, they were an absolute joy to eat, the perfect combination of chewy texture and sweet filling. I was put under a spell buy these little works of art!
The damage: Expect to pay 125-150 pounds per head with wine and cocktails
The good: The restaurant is grand and beautiful, the dining experience is to match. Sheer class with quality ingredients executed so well and comes with a faultless cocktail bar, I would highly recommend this place to anyone.
The bad: Please, please put the Dingley Dell pork chop and chantenay carrots back on the menu Jason!
10 Berners Street, London W1T 3LF
020 7908 7979