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Friday, 4 October 2013
Name: Berners Tavern
Where: The London Edition Hotel, 10 Berners Street, London, W1T 3NP, 020 7908 7979,
Cost: From the dinner menu - starters £7.50 to £12.50, mains £15 to £39. Cocktails £12 on average while bottles of white and red wines start from £21 and £24 respectively.
About: With 10 restaurants worldwide and 3 opened in London this year alone, Jason Atherton is a man on a mission. But unlike Little Social and Social Eating House, his latest London venture Berners Tavern is a grand, swish restaurant, the kind of place to be seen at or to bring a new date, a prospective business partner, your mum or anyone else you really want to impress.
Housed within the equally glamorous London Edition Hotel, both restaurant and hotel opened their doors as recently as two weeks ago. The restaurant lighting is gentle and subdued, the walls filled with numerous portraits, landscapes and still lives while two huge chandeliers, modelled on those found in NYC’s Grand Central Station, hang overhead. The ceiling is triple-height and is adorned with the most intricate stucco I have seen.
But it is not all style over substance at Berners Tavern - the modern British menu offered on my visit was short but very tempting, and brilliantly delivered. The restaurant is open as early as 7am for breakfast, and service continues through lunch, dinner and supper up until midnight. The kitchen is open-plan and is headed by Phil Carmichael, a long-time colleague of Atherton.
What We Ate: We kicked off proceedings with a beautifully presented ceviche of Orkney scallops (£12.50) served with paper thin slices of radish, avocado cream, baby gem lettuce, jalapeño and lime ice.
The other starter was “The Egg, Ham and Peas” (£8.50) made from a deep fried Clarence Court egg, mushy peas, and crispy Cumbrian ham. This was a simple but cleverly put together sort of dish - the yolk was completely runny from a shelled, deep-fried egg which got us wondering for a while how it could possibly have been made. The flavours were good too!
For main, we loved sharing the 36-hour slow-roasted shoulder of Romney Marsh lamb (£55 for two) with all the trimmings which included chargrilled cabbage, roasted parsnips and mint pesto. The meat was coming off the bone and was tender and delicious. This was a huge shoulder of lamb that could have easily fed 3-4 people, and it broke my heart not being able to finish it all!
The most delectable duck fat chips (£4) and the creamiest mashed potatoes were also thrown in for good measure - what a feast!
For pudding, we had the chocolate filled donut with cinnamon sugar coating and almond sorbet (£7) which was fantastic. Served warm, it was light like no other donut I have tried and a splendid way to round off the meal.
The menu was short and somewhat casual including sandwiches, salads, seafood platters and steak options as well as a couple of lunch specials - Friday Fish Lunch (battered cod, mushy peas and chips for £17.50) and Sunday Roast Lunch (roast rib of beef with all the trimmings for £18.50). There were also various dishes to share between 2, costing from £40 to £77 each.
What We Drank: The wine list is primarily French and is quite extensive. White and red wines start from £21 and £24 respectively but escalate rapidly from there.
As we decided what to order, we tried a couple of their seasonal cocktails - “Dill or No Dill” (£11.50) was a refreshing mix of Tanquery gin, smashed cucumber and fresh dill with a hint of lemon juice and elderflower syrup. This was the better of the two cocktails we ordered. The “Corn on the Cobbler” (£12.50) was made from corn whiskey, crushed citrus and roast sweet corn syrup among other ingredients listed which I could not taste. It had plenty of crushed ice which unfortunately diluted it a little too quickly.
We asked the sommelier Fabrice for his wine recommendation to match the shoulder of lamb we were about to eat, and we were so glad we did. Fabrice recommended a fantastic bottle of 2007 Vin de Pays 'Le Clos Milan' by Domaine Henri Milan (£75). This was a blend of Grenache and Syrah grapes yielding a deeply ruby-coloured wine with cocoa and leather notes, firm tannins and superb length, a real winner.
Likes: The glitz and the glamour - Berners Tavern is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful restaurants in London right now. The slow-roasted shoulder of lamb was to die for, as were the duck fat chips and the chocolate filled donut. Our waiter Stuart was very friendly and attentive, great service. A fantastic wine list and a sommelier who knows his onions.
Dislikes: Much as I would like to find something to pick on, I can’t!
Verdict: A sumptuous restaurant with great food and wines. Berners Tavern is one of the most exciting restaurant openings of 2013, and one I cannot fault. I thoroughly enjoyed my latest meal there and cannot wait to return. Very highly recommended.