Jason Atherton definitely came away from his divorce with Gordon Ramsay with the house and the kids. He hasn’t looked back since that separation, and his restaurants are fast becoming the top go-to places on the London food scene. Berners Tavern is his fourth London restaurant, and it follows more in the vein of the recent Social Eating House, with its hipper and more pocket-friendly menu than that of his flagship Pollen Street Social. Judging by how increasingly trendy his restaurants are getting, he is almost like a slightly less hip version of Mark Hix, except without Tracy Emin and Lily Allen tagging along.
As part of the ultra-cool new London Edition Hotel, I was expecting it to be trendy, but nothing prepared me for the dining room I ventured into. It is without a doubt the most impressive room I have ever dined in. Were I not in a relationship this is the first place I’d take a date if I was looking to end the night on a high. We spent most of the evening gawking at all of the paintings that line ever inch of the walls. Even if the food that followed was rubbish (which it certainly wasn’t) I had already made up my mind that I loved the place and would be telling everybody about it.
Things got off to a slightly shaky start when it seemed that nobody was too keen on serving us. When we finally flagged a waiter to order, our starters literally turned up 2 minutes later. We still hadn’t even got our bottle of wine or bread! This was strange, as surely it couldn’t have been made in that time? Maybe this explains why the starters were verging on being lukewarm.
The menu had some familiar Jason Atherton pairings, almost like his greatest hits. There was the “Egg, Ham and Peas” Deep fried Clarence Court duck egg, mushy peas and crispy Cumbrian ham (£8.50), which was a less fun version of the Smoked duck ham, egg and chips at Social Eating House. It was still a great tasting dish though.
I had a flawlessly cooked piece of salmon with a horseradish cream and beetroot, again a pairing I’d had in Little Social. There was a little too much of the horseradish, which drowned out the flavour of the salmon, and with the beetroot made it a little on the sickly side.
The Middle White pork and pistachio pate, spiced pear puree and toasted sourdough (£8.50) was a lovely combination.
The best starter was definitely the Crispy Romney Marsh lamb breast, butternut and pecorino fregola, and lamb marrow crumble (£8). The lamb marrow crumble was so rich, and I could have happily eaten this on its own.
The mains continued to impress. My mum had the Cod with puy lentils, bacon lardons and charred lettuce and had no complaints as she wolfed the lot down and forgot to offer any of the rest of us a taste. My dad equally gave me the two fingers wit his Creedy Carver duck, braised leg, caramel apples, pickled plum puree and turnips (£24).
I had the Rack of Romney Marsh lamb, braised neck, spiced aubergine, apricot cous cous and hispi cabbage (£24.50). What really let down this dish was that the plate was cold, which meant that everything except the lamb was lukewarm. It was a shame because other than this it was a stunning plate of food.
My partner had the Halibut with squid ink risotto and scampi (£24), and a couple of sides of the duck fat chips (£4) and claims it was one of the best dishes she’d eaten that year.
For desserts the Caramel apple and Calvados Éclair, Devon cream salted caramel ice cream (£7.50) was about as glamorous as you could ever wish to make an Éclair. Although I did miss the fun of stuffing it into my mouth.
The Chocolate filled donut, cinnamon sugar coating, almond sorbet(£7) was less appealing on the eye, and I wasn’t too sure on how to eat it. It sure as hell tasted great though.
The Chocolate rice pudding (£7) was the weakest of the three, only because it tasted more like the leftover milk at the bottom of a bowl of Coco Pops, rather than having an intense chocolatey flavour of its own.
This dining room alone is worth the trip, and it makes Berners Tavern feel like a real special occasion place. But the beauty of it is that for these prices you don’t need to save it for just that. Apart from a few minor complaints with the warmth of the plates and a little bit of service problems, this was a flawless dining experience.
The London Edition Hotel, 10 Berners St, W1T 3LF