Could the eponymous Claridge’s Restaurant be the hotel‘s best culinary offering yet? Ellie Smith investigates.
Review: Claridge’s Restaurant
Lots of London hotels describe themselves as iconic, but few compare to Claridge’s: the queen of Mayfair, which has stood proudly on Brook Street for more than 200 years. The crème de la crème of grand dames, it dates back to the 1800s, when William and Marianne Claridge turned their house into a hotel, going on to buy the five adjoining buildings and officially opening Claridge’s in 1856.
The hotel has always been a hotspot for the rich and famous, attracting an endless string of royals and A-listers over the years – from Queen Victoria to Winston Churchill, Audrey Hepburn to Mick Jagger and Kate Moss. But, like all successful long-standing hospitality ventures, Claridge’s has made sure to keep evolving over the years. Most recently, the hotel has undergone a big restoration, excavating its basement to create a glorious new spa, as well as revamping its food and drink offering. Earlier this year, the chic new ArtSpace Café launched, and this autumn Claridge’s Restaurant 2.0 opened, taking back the name it used 20 years ago, but with a new modern spin.
The restaurant at Claridge’s has had a number of guises over the years. It was helmed by Gordon Ramsay for a while before being taken over by Simon Rogan in 2014, who renamed it Fera. Five years later, Davies and Brook opened under Daniel Humm, but his vision for an all-vegan menu didn’t go down so well, and in 2021 the hotel announced they were parting ways.
Now, it feels like Claridge’s has finally found its culinary feet. Since opening in September, the glossy new spot has been met with widespread praise – and after a lunchtime visit, we can confirm it’s well worth the hype.
First up: the interiors. All corners of this pristine hotel are designed beautifully, and the new restaurant is no exception, with a stylish new look courtesy of Bryan O’Sullivan Studio. Drawing on the hotel’s art deco roots, the dining room is all antique brass and marble, with a pink and green colour palette, banquette seating and mosaic flooring. With its high ceilings, the dining room has a grand feel, yet it’s also warm and welcoming, with cosy booths perfect for intimate dates or special occasion meals.
My trip was the latter: a post wedding dress-shopping lunch with a friend – for which this was the perfect venue. We kicked things off with a cocktail at the sleek standout bar: The Flapper for me (Creme De Cassis, Laurent Perrier and strawberry) and a zingy Peach Piquant (Cointreau, mezcal and chilli) for my dining companion (both delicious).
Irish chef Coalin Finn heads up the food side, focusing primarily on grills: simple dishes made with top-quality ingredients (including lots of luxury additions, we are in Claridge’s after all). We begin with the signature black truffle buckwheat crumpets, which come topped with a creamy soubise sauce and large shavings of truffle, and some of the freshest, zestiest beef tartare we’ve ever tasted. You could also start with some caviar, or a small plate of agnolotti with sage and smoked delica pumpkin.
For mains, diners can choose from a range of seafood, meat and fish grills – many with a theatrical element, though not in a gimmicky way. After a recommendation from our friendly waiter, we opted for the lobster, an impressive dish which has been doing the rounds on Instagram for its aesthetic presentation. It arrives already shelled, deconstructed and neatly rearranged, then drizzled tableside in a bisque – but it’s certainly not style over substance: the dish is perfectly succulent and meaty (and for £68 a pop, we’d expect nothing less).
Also worth a mention is the roast chicken – which often feels like a bit of a boring choice, but here it’s one of the tastiest dishes, paired with a brioche and lemon stuffing, as well as a side of moreish crispy skins. There’s also some perfectly juicy scallops; a show-stopping sharing turbot served with smoked caviar; and a decadent fruits de mer platter, piled high with oysters, langoustines, clams and mussels. After all this, you might be feeling a little full – but make some space for the citrus baked Alaska, a sharing dessert which is flambeed at the table.
Oenophiles will find much excitement in the wine list, an extensive menu spanning 40 pages and featuring varieties from all over the world, plus an array of champagnes. But if you’re not so well-versed in the world of wine, fear not: knowledgeable sommeliers will help you pick the right glass for your tastes.
THE FINAL WORD
Unsurprisingly, all this luxury does not come cheap – but for special occasions, this ticks all the boxes. With its dazzling interiors, refined food and faultless service, Claridge’s Restaurant encapsulates everything we love about the perennially relevant stalwart.
Brook Street, London W1K 4HR, claridges.co.uk