London Special Occasion Restaurant

The way Hayler rates the dishes is that to score 20/20, you need exceptional cooking from exceptional ingredients. Serving a chicken wing from a non disclosed source, no matter how good it is, will never be 20/20 because the ingredient is not exceptional.

In Hayler’s world, an extraordinary pig jowl would likely be a 15-16/20 dish, because it is still a pig jowl. But 16 still is “Exemplary cooking skills”, it is not a low score.

Hayler uses a scale where 11/20 is “Capable cooking, with simple food combinations and clear flavours, but some inconsistencies”.

To understand a bit more how he rates restaurants and dishes, review of European restaurant Schloss Berg Victor's Fine Dining by Christian Bau in Germany by Andy Hayler in June 2022 is a good example. He scored it 20/20. But just compare the ingredients to the likes of Ledbury. We are talking different level of produce. If Ledbury used ingredients like these, I would imagine they would be closer to 20 as well.

That’s one reason why I appreciate Hayler’s reviews. Too many fine dining restaurants have tried to get away with serving “the perfect chicken wing”. If I’m paying 400-800USD for a meal, I want perfect caviar, not perfect chicken wing.

Agree, but if you are charging 200 pounds, I do expect some luxe.

Katz’s does great with brisket.

Coincidentally I read that review of Schloss Berger last night. Have never heard of the restaurant, but now I certainly want to go there.
Hayler also seems to be a turbot devotee and it is interesting to read his detailed encounters with said fish at various establishments. He certainly seems to know his produce.

Turbot is a great example of an ingredient that can be borderline inedible (from small turbots) to incredible (huge ones). I like how he has the size mentioned on the reviews, given that I bet that’s a question most diners don’t ask.

Turbot, size does matter.

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Just back from trip. Not sure which thread to post this is as these do not all constitute special occasion but hopefully of some use.
Barbary, Covent Garden - sit around a bar watching the chefs ply their trade, and converse freely with them. Much of the cooking over chargrill. Assured cooking, delicious, wine list just a tad restrictive but would go back for sure.
Gymkhana, Mayfair - Very refined Indian in a lovely setting. Excellent wine list. Recommeded.
Medlar, Chelsea - more of a locals restaurant. Very well executed menu and outstanding service. Guinea Fowl was da bomb. Really good value for what you get.
Zephyr, Notting Hill - stumbled across this one when perambulating Portobello Rd. Assured Middle Eastern cuisine, with good produce. Vegetable dishes a stand out, as well as outstanding Octopus. Serviceable wine list. Good alfresco lunch option.
The Ledbury - again quite outstanding. Wonderful sweetbreads and a little comte, brioche and truffle canape was so good, we just had to get more. Staff were as good as it gets anywhere.

And for some fun, pre or post dinner - Pick and Cheese at Seven dials in Covent Garden. English cheese meets Sushi train. Some lovely cheeses in a unique format.

And now for something completely different.

Thanks for the recommendation, Jason!

The Clove Club vegetarian menu was astonishingly terrible.

Vegetables with little flavor, heirloom or not, in some cases, no sauce.

A tiny heirloom corn, other than the husk, it tasted like one that would be in your local Chinese restaurant stir fry. Accompanied by a “potato and butter” sauce that was bland.

Have you ever tried a steamed daikon radish, it becomes spongey. We love daikon but that dish was one of the worst we ever had. We even asked if there was a sauce they forgot, but no.

My regular menu was ok. Precious pieces of lovely fish, some with a nice, intense sauces. Shrimp tartar was so plain it was just texture, not flavor, other than the sauce. Part of the issue is the would be very stingy with the sauce. Maybe I would remember it more fondly if my wife didn’t have 4 disastrous courses in a row.

PS we are fine with fabulous vegetables being showcased. These sucked.

Ugh, that’s horribly unfortunate. It sounds like a possibly off day, but there’s too many restaurants in London to worry about going back

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Medlar, Chelsea

A bit of a thread drift…

Want to take my daughters to afternoon tea while we are in town. For one reason or another, we have whiffed on going every time we have been in town while they were growing up and I need to make good on it at last this November. Any favorites?

My wife and daughter have done a few and loved Fortnum & Mason.

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dinner at Medlar was fantastic. Really high quality novelle French menu with so many dishes we’d like to try. 3 courses for 70 pounds was also an outstanding value. A definite must when i come back to London.

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That’s good to know. We went a handful of times to Medlar, our first visit was the night they were awarded their Michelin * and our last was shortly after they lost it. Both were deserved. I’m happy to read that they are back on track.

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We absolutely loved it and they let us move up our reservation time very easily on a Friday night. I was really impressed by the service. They had a full house but you would have never known. Service was on point but done in a casual way.

Hakkasan was also a solid dinner that my client choose. I could have done w/o the DJ but overall a place I would go back to.

Resurrecting this thread for my trip to London in May.

Any updates on Medlar? These days, three course prix fixe is perfect.

Gymkhana and J Sheeky are musts for me.

Was going to back to Kitchen Table, but I don’t like Prepaid/non-refundable. Strongly considering the Ledbury, anyone go recently? I’ve been a few times before, was amazed twice and disappointed the last time (but that was several years ago).

My focus is on fish, it seemed like Noble Rot and BRAT are pretty meat oriented (and the latter is in Shoreditch, a bit far from Mayfair).

Will likely go back to Nopi too.

I understand your lack of enthusiasm for the prepaid aspect of Kitchen Table 2.0. They remodeled during the pandemic and have gone to one seating nightly rather than two. Dinner is now more expensive and includes more courses. Despite the extra cost and prepaid thing, I think the food and experience are better. Knappett has his own farm(s) now and has a serious in-house dry aging capability. Better ingredients and less rushed than it was previously. I’ve now been three times to the new format/Kitchen Table 2.0 and prefer it. Sandia Chang has created an exceptional Champagne list, which is right in my wheelhouse.

The Ledbury is now helmed by Tom Spenceley, formerly Knappett’s no. 2 at Kitchen Table. Now tasting menu only rather than the three course option. Brett Graham is still involved, but Spenceley runs the kitchen. They received *** for the first time this year.

BRAT is a 10 minute walk from Liverpool Street Station if you don’t want to cab/Uber. They serve excellent fish/seafood and vegetable dishes. Very casual and very good. Worth the trek in my opinion.

Ate at the Ledbury 18 months ago. Brett was on the pans and snuck in the kitchen to say g’day. Meal was very fine…

Really enjoyed Medlar. Feels more like a neighbourhood restaurant but very warm service and great execution of dishes. Loved the Guinea Fowl.

Great to hear Medlar is still Aces. We had such a great meal there. Hope to visit again.

Given all the praise for Medlar, going to stop by when I’m back in London in a few weeks for work.

I’ll be solo, is there a bar or other area that’s good for solo dining or should I just book a table?

I’ve done fine by just booking a table for lunch. I haven’t done dinner with them for whatever reason, but I don’t see you having an issue at all

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