Three years of trying and finally I bagged¬†a table that wasn’t 5.30 or 10.30 on a Tuesday night.¬†Back when Dabbous opened it was the go-to restaurant for contemporary cooking in London. There was a buzz surrounding the restaurant, and the¬†chef, Oliver Dabbous, who was being touted as the man¬†to take the London restaurant scene in a new adventurous direction. It made it virtually impossible to get a reservation. Now the hype has died down and there are other restaurants with a similar style of cooking like The Clove Club, The Typing Room and Portland,¬†but after eating there this still feels as fresh and new as anything I’ve tried in London recently. With tables now easier to get, there are few restaurants I can recommend more.

The decor¬†is deliberately¬†minimal with¬†exposed bricks and pipes, which fits¬†the menu which only¬†has two choices- a Tasting Menu (¬£68) or a set Dinner Menu (¬£56)- both with no choice over which dishes you are getting. It’s a ballsy brand of cooking that has no place to hide if it doesn’t deliver. But Dabbous absoloutely pulls it off.¬†

A starter of Fennel with lemon balm and olive oil, placed all it’s emphasis on the central¬†ingredient. The cooking was exact and precise, and it quite simply was the best that this ingredient could be.¬†Caesar mushroom shavings with lesser calamint, pine nuts and bitter leaves, was a clean and fresh dish, with waves of flavour in each bite. First a¬†barbecued earthy flavour from the mushrooms and pine nuts, and then a herbal peppermint wash from the lesser calamint. It was familiar and yet surprising, a dish that seemed so simple with very little actual cooking, but takes an excellent¬†kitchen to execute.


Next Lard on toast with black truffles (¬£9 supplement) was a dish I wanted to hate. Served¬†on a black slate there was nothing to distract from the fact that with¬†a few shavings of truffle you’re looking at a ¬£20 slice of toast. But it just tasted so good-¬†creamy and fatty and then¬†the luxury of the truffle coming through.¬†


Cornish squid with butterhead lettuce and clover was again a winning combination. The shrimp has been shredded so that it resembled noodles and served in a buttery, nutty sauce. Best of all was barbecued Iberico pork that was trimmed of all fat and cooked perfectly. An acorn praline and radishes provided the added crunch and the sharpness from the crushed green apples brought the dish together. It was a faultless plate of food.


A pre-dessert of iced lovage was surprisingly refreshing and then the only dish that didn’t blow me away- milk pie infused with fig leaves. It was a little bland and stodgy- the milk sauce was too thin and only had the¬†faintest hint of the fig leaves, and its texture was a bit like half-baked croissant dough. The sort of dessert you’d eat if you’d left you dentures and palate back in the house.


The meal¬†came to over ¬£100 a head but on the cooking and service was as good as any high end restaurant. So often a tasting menu can drag- this was a seamless experience, bang on two hours. There may be hotter tables to get in London now, but this still feels like some of the boldest best cooking in the city. I only hope it’s not three years until I next dine here.

9.5/10 (££££)

39 Whitfield St, London WIT 2SF

Dabbous Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



Most exciting things happening in the London food¬†scene are taking place¬†in the East. Rents are slightly cheaper there meaning¬†less barriers to entry for up-and-coming chefs to ply their trade, and there’s more bearded hipsters who are willing to give their¬†new, paired back brand of cooking more of a chance.¬†Portland is Fitzrovia’s attempt at joining this scene.¬†With only a choice of three dishes for¬†each course, the menu is confidently minimal. It matches the dining room which is simply designed¬†with white walls and school chairs, lacking slightly in any real warmth or identity. Take away the open kitchen and you have a school detention room.¬†This being Fitzrovia, it was busy with ad execs and creatives (think Oliver Peoples and casual¬†shirts), and the menu with it’s unusual combinations might well have been drawn up in one of their think tanks. It’s all very present, but lacks any roots¬†that give you a way in.


Snacks were the most enjoyable dishes of the night- a thin crisp of chicken skin had a rich liver parfait on top with candied walnuts and a slice of grape (£1.50 each) to cut through- it was a skilful piece of cooking and tasted as good as it looked. As did the wild rice cracker with yellow fin tuna, lime and shisho (£3 each) which was a refreshing mouthful. Bread with smoked butter and shaved ox heart (a bit of a pointless addition) was lovely, but only 3 half slices left you wanting a lot more.

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For starter a Halibut sashimi with buttermilk and black radish (¬£11) looked like an anaemic flower petal. The¬†black radish added a¬†freshness and light crunch but it distracted slightly from the flavour of the fish. It was a dish that was all surface, with nothing exciting beneath.¬†The other starter of Salsify with¬†thin strips of¬†‘Mangalista’ pig (basically crispy bacon) and Comte (¬£10), was forgettable. These flavours all work together, but there just wasn’t enough love in the cooking to make it anything more than a shrug of the shoulders.

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From the specials Partridge with blood sausage and fermented damsons (¬£24) was a taster menu portion. The¬†meat was slightly dry and there just wasn’t enough to the dish to make it of much interest. It needed the side of potatoes with Montgomery cheddar (¬£5) just to fill the dish out, but even they lacked any love. The boiled new potatoes were under-seasoned and¬†had not been cooked with the cheese, so¬†none of its flavour had seeped through¬†into them.¬†Miso-grilled¬†deer with aubergine and yoghurt (¬£26) was cooked well but¬†again it was criminally seasoned meaning the meat couldn’t shine. Perhaps¬†chefs here must be allergic to salt.¬†A¬†side salad of baby gems with radishes and buttermilk (¬£5),¬†was crunchy but nothing else.

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Dessert was an interesting combination of apple with rosemary ice and vanilla ice cream, again presented in a distinctive¬†modern way that didn’t immediately draw you in. The¬†flavours were a perfect marriage and it was a refreshing finish to the meal, but an added texture or maybe just¬†chunks of apple would have made it feel a little more substantial. Like the rest of the dishes it felt like¬†more of an essence of something, or an idea for a dish, rather than something complete in itself.


I really wanted to love this restaurant- it’s trying to do things differently and it was refreshing to see a slim, focused¬†menu. But having a menu this minimalist¬†was a bold statement that didn’t quite come off. It’s confident cooking with obvious flair, but¬†less focus on the look and idea of the dishes¬†and a little more attention to depth of flavour (or just salt) and things would have been a lot better. At ¬£65 a head I had expected more. It¬†was all texture and colours, without¬†a soul.

6/10 (£££)

113 Great Portland St, London W1W 6QQ
Portland Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Similar: Picture, 10 Greek Street


Bo Drake

At it’s best you don’t notice service. It’s a seamless part of the dining experience, one you only remember in recollection. A good waiter will first of all know the menu and know what to recommend because they have tried it, not because they’ve been told to up-sell that dish. But most importantly, a good waiter¬†knows¬†when to leave you alone. It seems so simple, and yet so few restaurants get this part right. There’s¬†fine dining restaurants that¬†seem so eager to justify the service charge that¬†they do everything except wipe your arse for you. Then there’s the restaurants with staff who¬†pull up a chair and¬†ask you so many¬†overfamiliar questions that you end up checking your starter for their signs of their bodily fluids. And then you get the worst of them all. The waiters who are like incessant little flies, pestering you from the moment you enter, literally turning the table as you are still sitting there. Tonight, Bo Drake fell into this last rung in hell.

From the moment we sat down, we were given a menu and¬†immediately asked if we were ready to order. No, we’d like to at least have a look at the menu first. Maybe some water. A minute later and he was back. We sent him away again, or rather he hovered three foot behind me waiting for the next moment I dared to open my mouth for conversation with my partner-¬†a sure signal I had made my mind up. On the third attempt we gave in and ordered our dishes- which given how concise the menu is, was just about everything worth trying.¬†Three minutes later the food came. Yes a whole 180 seconds from¬†the waiter writing it down in his pad, to the order being passed to the kitchen, to the chefs cooking 7 different dishes, to it being put down on our table. This is no exaggeration. Needless to say not one of the dishes served was hot.

Having now ordered and been served, I could take the restaurant in.¬†Bo Drake clearly took its¬†design inspiration from what was hot last year- brown paper menus, matt-grey walls and exposed pipes. Minimal, cold, and drab- something between a prison cell and a pervert’s¬†sex dungeon.¬†With it’s menu and look, it is in the same vein as restaurants like Flesh & Buns and Pitt Cue Co, but it lacks their boozy¬†basement¬†buzz¬†and the food doesn’t pack as much¬†of a punch.


First up¬†KFC (Korea fried chicken) with soy garlic, grapes and rosemary (¬£8.50) which would have the¬†Colonel turning in his grave over this poor pun on his classic.¬†At their best Korean chicken wings blow your balls off. They’re red hot dirty finger food, something Flesh & Buns have nailed. Here the skin was soggy (maybe from standing pre-made on the pass for the last thirty minutes?) and they had no kick of spice.¬†Bo Ssam was smoked pulled pork with kimchi (¬£14) that you forked into lettuce parcels, although it looked more like a can of cat food that had slurped onto the plate. The smoke was lacking and the meat was without¬†that fatty goodness you associate with pulled pork.¬†Smoked duck bao (¬£9) were tasty little bites, but not the best I’ve had.



From the specials striploin beef served rare with truffled shiitake, tofu cream and shizou (¬£18) was¬†a dish that you’d get in a restaurant like Zuma and happily pay twice the price. Cooked perfectly with good clean flavours, albeit served lukewarm, it showed that the kitchen can create moments of magic here. Only moments though, as a¬†side of smoked aubergine with a miso and vine tomato water (¬£7) restored the order- it was¬†like slurping down smokey slugs. Sweet potato fries with kimchi island dressing (¬£3.80) were better, but only because the pickled vomit flavour of the kimchi wasn’t coming through.


It¬†wouldn’t take an imaginative chef to pad out the dessert list.¬†A choice of three was cut to two as the most appealing one- passion fruit brulee- was unavailable. At 7.30pm on a Friday? Maybe it had melted on the pass having been prepped three days before? That left a choice between¬†sesame soft serve ice cream or apple tarte tatin (which really didn’t fit¬†with the¬†rest of the menu). It was a tarte tatin cooked by a Korean kitchen. Uninspired and out of place. A dribble of soft-serve vanilla ice cream did nothing to lift it.


Having now eaten there, I can see that Bo Drake is an after work place where you go for a quick bite and a few drinks. Had I gone expecting this, I might have been more forgiving for being rushed through a meal in 45 minutes. I know London restaurants like to turn tables, but less than an hour is really pushing it. It was all bang on-trend with the decor and style of cooking, but food like this should be vibrant and punchy that makes you want to drink. The only thing making me want to drink more here was the shite service.

4/10 (££)

6 Greek St, London W1 4DE

Bó Drake Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Similar: Flesh & Buns, Pitt Cue Co



San Sebastian, or Donostia to use the Basque name, is the best place on earth to dine. The backstreets are lined with pintxo bars, and a traditional bar crawl here stretches dinner across as many restaurants you can manage.¬†It makes dining into an event, and with food so affordable¬†it is one the locals seem to do every evening. It took less than a day in San Sebastian for me to start questioning¬†whether life in the rat race in London is really worth it. Grafting your balls off for an Itsu or Pret to take home with you at the end of the day. In just three days I tried¬†fifteen different restaurants and around fifty different dishes, not one of them hurting the pocket. It was such an inspiring gorge that it made¬†me consider packing it all in and either¬†moving there or opening up a restaurant of my own. The owners of Donostia in London had this same sentiment and took the leap and opened up their very own place. Housed on Seymour Place, which with Vinoteca, The Lockhart and the recent addition of Lurra (by the same owners) is as close as you can get to one of those San Sebastian foodie backstreets. Try a food crawl here though and you’ll soon be broke.

Donostia has a clean white decor with light wood which would¬†verge on being cold if were not for the open kitchen that you can overlook whilst dining. It’s a more sophisticated restaurant than¬†Barrafina which shares¬†a similar layout, and attracts a less lively crowd, which no doubt is¬†mainly¬†down¬†to it’s location wedged between Marleybone and Marble Arch, which lacks the natural buzz of Soho.¬†This being London, prices sadly aren’t only¬†a couple¬†of quid a dish, and instead quickly move into double figures, something that’s always difficult to swallow no matter how good the tapas is. The menu is simple, with emphasis put on the ingredients, but it could have been more padded out on the meat and fish section.

Padron peppers (£4.90), pan con tomate (£3.60) and a plate of good Iberico ham (£19.80) were all safe crowd pleasers with high quality of ingredients, although the meagre portions (there were only 7 peppers!) left you wanting more.


Octopus in a Basque marinade ate like more of a bar snack than a dish on its own, but again was faultless in its simple execution and presentation.


A single courgette flower stuffed with goat’s cheese and a drizzle of honey left you wanting a full bouquet of the things to munch through. A classic tortilla was served cold and was a needed bit of stodge, although I do prefer when they are served piping hot with¬†a gooey centre.


Iberico pork shoulder with romesco sauce (¬£14.20) was served pink and was an example of the confidence the chefs here have in letting the ingredients do all of the talking. Anything else added to this dish would have lessened its success.¬†Still hungry we ordered a lovely dish of monkfish with black rice (¬£13.20) that¬†left the teeth looking like you’d been guzzling oil.


There was no real fault in the food, and each dish was executed as it should be with minimum fuss. Although at¬†over ¬£50 a head is expensive, that’s now common ground for Spanish cooking in London. What perhaps tainted my experience was that I went expecting, or rather hoping, for the same experience as I had in San Sebastian. There were certain nods to the Basque spirit, such as the goblets of gin and tonic, but overall it lacked the warmth and buzz that I associate with great Spanish restaurants.

7/10 (£££)

10 Seymour Pl, London W1H 7ND
Donostia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Similar: Barrafina

(Below are photos of food  in San Sebastian)

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In our quest to constantly try what’s new without having to leave the W1 postcodes, Peruvian cuisine has¬†recently been given the London makeover.¬†Lima, of Fitzrovia,¬†remains the best if you are going for the food alone, and was awarded¬†a Michelin star for it. But eating in London is rarely only about the food. So if it’s a pleasant demonstration of Peruvian cooking without the risk of the unfamiliar or too foreign, then Coya will be perfect for you. With outposts already in Miami and Dubai, it is a restaurant made for¬†the international class- those who stay in the¬†Grand Park Hyatt and look down on the exotic streets from their 30th floor room. You¬†can say you’ve¬†been there, and tick it off the list, but really it’s no different to your experience of any other city or cuisine.

Opened in 2013, by Arjun Waney, who is one of the founders of Zuma and Roka, the restaurant is all high design and has¬†a menu that is constructed to please. Set in¬†a grand old house on the quieter end of Piccadilly, it’s a glamorous postcode, but in reality¬†is a thoroughfare for taxis, buses and tourists heading to Hard Rock Cafe. Suited bouncers and an upstairs members club set the scene for a pricey meal.¬†The basement pisco bar and restaurant¬†has¬†a¬†dark and metallic decor with flashes of colour, giving it the feel of a posh bomb shelter. The menu is split into sections, too many to read through, but is essentially raw dishes or food from the grill. It’s Zuma-high prices, so no matter what combination of dishes you put together you’re looking at over ¬£80 a head.

From the starters a wild Sea bass ceivche was a beautiful fresh dish¬†with¬†orange and fennel shavings and¬†a zingy avocado and red onion salsa (¬£12).¬†Pork¬†belly (¬£12) had been cooked on the Josper grill giving it a strong smoky flavour, freshened by the fennel and mint, but there just wasn’t enough of it. This was Weight Watchers pork belly, with all the flat trimmed off. A corn salad (¬£8) was full of different textures, but¬†served by itself meant you were just eating spoonfuls of what tasted like tinned corn. It would have been far more enjoyable alongside the skewers which came next- first beef (¬£10) that had a lovely spicing but a slightly unusual mushy texture, and then monkfish (¬£10) which were perfectly cooked with¬†a¬†smoky red pepper dressing.

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A main of sea bream with potatoes and a fennel salad (¬£17) had a great balance but was let down by the overcooking of the fish.¬†Grilled Tiger prawns with chilli salsa (¬£27) could have been braver with the chilli and¬†again were a little overdone.¬†From the waiter’s recommendations, sea bass (¬£33) cooked with¬†rice, lime and sweet corn in iron pot¬†was the best dish of the night. It was a¬†soothing¬†best savoury porridge with an incredible depth of flavours. Once all mixed together it was the sort of dish you want to spoon up on a hungover Sunday.¬†Sides of patatas bravas were like the best bits from the roasties tray and broccoli with sesame seeds and chilli tasted as it does on any other menu.


To finish a thin slice of salted caramel ganache with raspberry sorbet was rich, and needed the raspberry to cut through it.


Portions are small and expensive, and if you’re in the mood for drink, the meal can easily creep up to the ¬£100 per head mark. My previous experience of Peruvian cooking was at Lima, where the flavours were completely new to me and every dish surprised. Here the bold flavours are toned down, and many of the dishes taste very similar to what you have at Roka or Zuma, just with slightly different spicing. It’s undeniably a seductive restaurant that coaxes you into emptying your pockets, but break from its spell and you’ll see that it is¬†far from an¬†exciting take on Peruvian cooking, and is just another addition to stylised international Mayfair¬†scene.

7/10 (££££)

118 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 7NW

Coya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Duck & Rice

Chinese food- the British staple. Ten pints in the local followed by¬†a chicken chow mein and some¬†bright red gloopy¬†meat dish. Food we’ve all grown up on.¬†We’re rarely sober when eat Chinese. We might start sober, but by the end of the meal we all have¬†a tinfoil box of¬†leftovers tucked under one arm, are¬†grabbing a handful of mints from the bowl by the door, and shaking hands with the owner- Kevin- who we are of course on first name terms with, and promising to see him at the same time next week and asking if he can keep our¬†special table free. We’ll all swear that we have the best Golden Dragon or Pekking Palace, that serves the best Number 23 in the country, but we all know it’s the same flavourless crap wherever we go.

Well now we can kill two ducks with one stone. Alan Yau, the creator of Hakkasan and Yautcha, has opened Duck & Rice in Soho. Ignore all the pretentious bollocks it will throw at you about it being a modern public house, this is a boozer (albeit it a ¬£5.40 a pint boozer) that doubles up as¬†a classic¬†British-Chinese restaurant. The bottom end of Berwick Street (with the exception of Polpetto) had¬†previously only been for a certain¬†type of dining, not one you too proudly write a review on. Thankfully¬†there’s more reasons to go now. Duck & Rice has taken over from¬†a grotty¬†pub called the Endurance, which I passed daily without ever having the urge to go in. It was the¬†type of place that would serve you a lukewarm glass of piss and still charge you Soho prices. I’ve read other reviews where people whinge¬†about this old Soho classic closing down, and protest that¬†it’s another sign of¬†how Soho and London and the whole fucking world is losing its true identity. These are the no doubt the same people who bombard you with¬†out socialist flyers about rent prices as soon as¬†you get off the overground anywhere East. Well thankfully Duck & Rice has priced them out the market.


The restaurant has an imposing glass and metal frontage- something a restauranteur can only do if he has absolute confidence in his style and money in the bank- both of which Alan Yau no doubt has in abundance. Inside, once you get past the awkwardly placed huge Pilsner Urquell copper tanks, the bar area is lavishly done out, with shiny metal surfaces and walls that resemble Chinese teapots.¬†It’s the most deliberately constructed restaurant I have been to in a long time, the price of which they are seemingly clawing back with the elevated food prices.


The menu is crowded, just like¬†every other Chinese menu in the country, and has most of the greatest hits on there- including its very own aptly named ‘Number 23’.¬†From the dim sum we tried the¬†char siu bao (¬£4.50), Shu Mai (¬£6.50) and Har Gau (¬£6) which were all¬†fine, but didn’t have a¬†touch of their own to make them stand out. The Sesame Toast ¬£6.50) did, and was a world away from the¬†greasy flavourless triangles that are usually served up. A whole prawn served on a crispy piece of toast finally made me understand exactly what the appeal is with this dish.


Salt & Pepper Squid (¬£10.50) was a little dry and unremarkable¬†for the price. It worked well with the beer but could have done with a fiery dipping sauce.¬†Shredded Pork Crispy¬†Noodles (¬£10.50) could have been crispier and were¬†heavily salted (lets hope it wasn’t MSG). Mains were the real strong dishes here, first the House Duck (¬£24 for a half) did the house name proud. We were told that it would be left to rest for fifteen minutes so that the meat is served lukewarm. It meant the juices had flowed back through the duck, making it more tender and flavoursome.


A¬†whole¬†Crab with curry sauce was the standout dish of the night. A huge plate of legs and flesh covered in a deeply coloured thick curry sauce. If you’re on a date, ordering this is essentially cock blocking yourself- I still smelt of curry on Monday morning. The sauce¬†was too strong for the¬†delicate flavour of the crab meat, but this is only a minor complaint for what was a fantastic dish to get stuck into.

Apart from a few of the mains, there¬†weren’t any dishes that you wouldn’t¬†find at your local Chinese. They were more refined here, but not enough so that you will remember it as the best chow mein or ho fun you’ve ever eaten. When you’re paying ¬£60 a head the food should¬†be better, but it didn’t really bother me, as it played second fiddle to the atmosphere and overall feel of the restaurant. It’s not a place to go if you want great Chinese food- Yauatcha next door is far more suited to that. Instead come here in a¬†group with the intention of getting drunk and having a good night, without having to wander down the street for your Chinese feast afterwards, and you’ll leave a happy punter.

7.5/10 (£££)

90 Berwick St, London W1F 0QB

Duck & Rice Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Square Meal



Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. Or rather, a¬†chef is born free, and then they get a Michelin star. This tends to be my feeling whenever I come out of a two star restaurant. With the exception of Dinner by Heston, I’m yet to have a 2 star meal that was truly memorable. Fera, Sketch and¬†The Square all blend into one memory. A memory of a certain type of cooking, one that was excellent¬†at the time of eating, but forgettable soon afterwards. These¬†restaurants sit in a purgatory. They lack that freshness and enthusiasm to push boundaries that many of the new 1 star restaurants do, and¬†they aren’t the game changers at the top of their field like the 3 star restaurants. Instead it sits uncomfortably between- it is cooking that has earned its stripes over the years and honed in a style of its own, and will always deliver¬†a fantastic meal. But it seems that many of these chefs, in search of that elusive¬†third star, have forgotten what got them their first. They are focused on maintaining and perfecting what they have,¬†not thinking outside of the box.¬†The box here being the dining room filled with a predominantly wealthy, middle aged clientele, who are not here to be challenged by a new dining experience, but instead just want that dish they’ve seen the (no doubt now celebrity) chef cook on TV. There’s also the contracts these chefs have with the prestigious¬†5 star hotels, which no doubt are like getting a¬†5 year contract at Chelsea. The¬†stand out performances that got them noticed in the first place stop, and instead they go into cruise control, producing the same high standard each time, without pushing on. They’re like a world class player earning their final big pay cheque. Fully deserved, but you know that they can still do better if they really try.

In the¬†other camp, sit¬†restaurants like¬†The Typing Room and The Clove Club, that¬†strive¬†to try things new, and that for the moment are cooking without any chains. But then, they aren’t yet cooking to the standard of a restaurant like Marcus. So it’s a fine balance. Many of these up-and-coming chefs, just like you see on Great British Menu, are so determined to make their mark and get noticed that they will¬†push to do more with new surprising flavour combinations¬†or¬†the latest cooking techniques. But this doesn’t always improve. A great chef knows that less is more. No doubt Marcus Wareing and all the other masters¬†of high end cooking, were¬†once just like that, but¬†a point must come when¬†the experimenting stops and the honing and perfecting becomes the focus.¬†So really it comes down to what camp you prefer. A less perfect but more exciting and challenging meal, or a perfect but more familiar and safe meal.

Today it was the latter- as soon as you walk into the dining room you know the brand of cooking and type of experience you are in for. A library hush, more staff than diners, a decor made up of¬†neutral colours (it’s duck-egg blue in Marcus) and a predominantly suited middle aged clientele. There was a choice of either the¬†full Taster menu (¬£120) or the lighter¬†Taste of Autumn lunch menu- 5 courses for ¬£49, or ¬£75 with wine pairing. The menu was refreshingly simplified, listing only the three primary ingredients of each dish. There was no aggrandising techniques, instead the cook disguises himself in the menu. The ingredients are king here.


An amuse bouche of polenta cake with a black olive crumb and fresh basil and then Dorset crab with peach, were both strong indications of the cooking to come. Flavours that are familiar, but have been lifted to the best they can get.



A starter of burrata, aubergine and sourdough was a superb demonstration of this. It was lifted by a little heat from paprika and a fresh crunch from spring onion, along with some excellent olive oil. Crispy Rhug Estate chicken with sweetcorn and tarragon, threatened to be a little on the sweet side, but the portion size was perfectly judged to prevent this.

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For mains, the¬†lamb neck, with beetroot, runner beans and pearl barely was again a tried combination that was cooked to its full potential. I would have preferred to see the lamb pinker- if it hadn’t been so juicy (perhaps from being cooked sous vide) it would have come across as being over-done.¬†The roasted bream with chorizo and tomato was again was playing it safe, and was the only dish where¬†I felt the balance wasn’t quite right. The tomatoes were too sharp and combined with the smokiness of the chorizo the fish was overpowered and lost a little in the dish.

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Next a good Lancashire cheese with a smoky fig chutney and poppy seed crackers, followed by plum, vanilla and damson which was refreshing and light, with some perfect choux buns.

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Then the famous egg custard and nutmeg tart. A small square bite that summed up this brand of cooking. It looked simple, and of course is a flavour you’ve had many times. But not this good.¬†The custard managed to be textureless, so that the only bite you get is from the crust of the pastry, and then the rich creamy flavour and hit of nutmeg washes over. If you asked any aspiring chef in the country who is making their name pushing new boundaries, to attempt to cook this custard tart, they would not come close to replicating it.


Lunch here costs the best part of ¬£90 a head (with a service and wine), but that’s to be expected, and the cooking and ingredients justify the price. It¬†a three hour lunch, so either bring your iPhone or really like the person you are dining with, because three hours next to anybody will threaten to drag.¬†My feeling after eating at¬†Marcus, was that the¬†cooking was precise and measured, that every single ingredient was taken to its full potential, and so each dish that was served was as good as it could be. But then, writing this, with the exception of the egg custard tart, I had to look over the menu again to recall exactly what it was I’d eaten. Perhaps it’s easier to remember a dish like Meat Fruit, which stands out primarily because of its technique and appearance. Still, it felt that with some of London’s best cooks and one of Britain’s finest chefs at the helm here, that there’s a feeling of taking what they have got and cooking within those 2 star parameters for the duck-egg blue dining room. I’d love to try the food if they took these chains off.

8.5/10 (££££)

The Berkeley, Wilton Pl, London SW1X 7RL

Marcus - The Berkeley Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Square Meal

Similar Restaurants:  Dinner by Heston