Tag: 15/20

Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, London, United Kingdom

This is the first time I returned to this restaurant at the Berkeley Hotel since Marcus Wareing broke away from the Gordon Ramsay empire. Hailed as one of the best restaurants in London, and possibly the UK, I have been eager to re-visit this place in the post-Petrus era, to see what the fuss was about. The previous time when I visited Petrus, the restaurant only had one Michelin star, and in my review I thought the starter was good but then it went downhill from there. Therefore I was curious to see if that much has changed.

A few snacks were brought out to accompany the aperitif: squid fritters, foie gras with orange marmalade, and smoky tomato and olive spread with toasted bread. I’d never have thought of combining foie gras with marmalade but the combination worked well.

The amuse-bouche was a mushroom veloute with a truffle mousse on top. The presentation was very topical – it was the week when the volcanic ash from Iceland caused widespread disruption in Europe. The soup was smooth and rich in flavour – this was a promising start.

We ordered the Menu Prestige, which consisted the following dishes:

(1) Foie gras, rhubarb, muffin top, pink pepper, yogurt, thyme. Everyone seemed to be doing foie gras and rhubarb these days. The ingredients were so beautifully arranged that the whole dish looked like an artwork, and the different contrasts in flavour and richness worked well also.

(2) Dorset crab, mackerel, apple, chargrilled bread, hazelnut. The texture of the apple complemented well with the fish. The crab meat was firm though the portion was a bit on the small side.

(3) Quail, smoked white beans, toast foam. It’s not always easy to cook quail but this one came out tender and moist. The flavour of the quail blended in well with the strong smokey flavour of the white bean.

(4) Scottish scallop, celeriac, sorrel, lemon jam – the scallops were somewhat dry and overcooked, which was a real shame as this could have been an outstanding dish. The lemon jam was very sharp and tangy on its own, but it did give an extra dimension in flavour when mixed with the other ingredients.

(5) Cumbrian lamb, red pepper, artichokes, fennel, saffron, or Lakes District venison, smoke, beetroot, juniper. First the lamb – it was on the slightly dry and tough side, and the flavour was somewhat lacking. It was a bit like daily home-cooking – you’d eat the food but it’s not memorable. The venison was tender but the flavour was once again smokey. For a tasting menu, this was the fourth dish with such flavour – where’s the variety to showcase the chef’s ability? Or was Mr Wareing too enthusiastic about his food smoker?

(6) Pre dessert – this was a passion fruit mousse and a chocolate opera. This was beautifully presented – the contrast in colours and shapes was impressive, and they both tasted good too!

(7) Espresso arctic roll, bitter chocolate, blackberry – Maybe because the pre-dessert was so good, this was a let-down.

On the whole, the meal was not as good as I had hoped. Several dishes had the smokey flavour, which would have been fine if the menu was a “smokey menu” rather than a “tasting menu”, which I would expect a chef to showcase the different flavours he/she was capable of. The menu lacked some of the excitements and innovative ideas, and with the price it’s commanding, it felt more like it’s catering for the rich bankers’ expenses accounts. Just like the previous Petrus, the meal started off very promising and it gradually went downhill without recovery.

Address: The Berkeley, Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7RL, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44(0)20 7235 6000
Website: www.the-berkeley.co.uk/marcus_wareing.aspx

Opening Hours: 
Monday to Friday: Lunch    12.00 – 14.30 ; Dinner 18.00 – 23.00
Saturday: Dinner 18.00 – 23.00

Food: 7/10
Ambience: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Total: 15/20 [Based on visit in April 2010]

Galvin at Windows, London, United Kingdom

I usually try to resist going to a restaurant which is at the top of a tall building and offers panoramic views. Often the quality of the food had to be compensated by the view. However, a few friends have recommended Galvins at Windows and so I thought I’d give it a try. I went there on the Friday when Pope Benedict happened to be visiting London, and so it was a real nightmare trying to find parking in Mayfair that evening because all the on-street parking spaces were suspended. So I ended up paying a fortune for the parking at Park Lane Hilton – thanks Ben!

The restaurant was very busy that evening – it was a fine September evening, when the sky was clear and there was an excellent view of London.

Ordering the aperitif was hard work – the staff was obviously so busy trying to serve all the tables and I nearly stood up and went to the bar to serve myself. So that was not a promising start.

For food, this was what I had:

Starter: Seared Scottish Scallop, cuttlefish, chorizo & “paella”. The scallops were overcooked, which was unfortunate. However, the dish was full of flavour and the rest of the ingredients were delicious.

Main: South Coast John Dory, oranmge braised endive, cauliflower puree, curry oil & golden raisins. This was a very impressive dish – the presentation was beautiful, the fragrance of the curry oil rose to the nose and just made me want to eat it straight away. The melange of flavours worked well also.

Dessert: Hot soufflé of banana, chocolate & caramelised peanut – I was looking forward to this dessert. However it was somewhat disappointing for me. While all the flavours were there, the hardness of the peanuts did not compliment well with the softness of the souffle, and the whole thing came out a bit dry.

In conclusion, it was not a bad dinner. The main course was memorable and it was worth the visit, but I’d rather like to forget about the dessert.

Address: 22 Park Lane, London, W1K 1BE, United Kingdom
Telephone:  +44 (0)20 7208 4021
Website: www.galvinatwindows.com/

Opening Hours: Lunch: Monday-Friday 12.00 – 14.30 , Saturday closed , Sunday 11.45 – 15.00 ; Dinner: Monday-Wednesday 18.00 – 22.30 , Thursday – Saturday 18.00 – 23.00 , Sunday closed

Food: 8/10
Ambience: 4/5
Service: 3/5
Total: 15/20 [Based on visit in September 2010]