Jan 2015 - Henry Harris closes up shop after years of slippage in the survey from one of London’s best restaurants to somewhere starting to look middling. A new site is planned.
Harden's survey result
For 25 years we've been curating reviews of the UK's most notable restaurant. This year diners have submitted over 60,000 reviews to create the most authoritative restaurant guide in the UK.
“You feel like you’re in Paris”, say devotees of this Knightsbridge fixture, who applaud its “seriously good bourgeois cooking” and “old-school” style; sagging survey ratings, however, support those who feel it’s “going downhill” – “fairly average” nowadays, and “pricey” too.
A reputation as “one of the best Gallic bistros in town” precedes Henry Harris’s “traditional” Knightsbridge fixture, which, for many reporters, still offers a “special experience every time”; sadly, however, the survey confirms that standards are “slipping”, and quite fast too.
This week - inspired by St Valentine's day - our theme has been romance. Having reviewed two 'heavy hitters', we've decided to wrap up with somewhere that's not too obviously smoochy: ideal for a hot date where you don't want to be seen to be trying too hard.
Racine is at the far end of Knightsbridge, before it begins to become South Kensington. It's pitched somewhere between the international glitz of the former, and the relatively relaxed bourgeois style of the latter. A long, dimly-lit and darkly mirrored room, it could easily be in Paris. The place has a good hubbub when it's full, but is by no means noisy. It's in short a pretty much perfect restaurant environment: it can be whatever you want it to be.
Service that doesn't put a foot wrong is of course another key factor to a smooth-running date. That is the reputation of the staff here, and the all-French team fully lived up to it on our recent visit: efficient but not intrusive and friendly but not matey, their approach is of a type the English still find surprisingly hard to master.
So often it's the case that when everything else is good, the food lets the side down, but that's certainly not the case here. Chef and co-patron, Henry Harris, imbues deceptively simple dishes with a surprising depth of flavour. Everything in our dinner for two, was exemplary, and ingredients all seemed first-rate. Oysters, a plain lemon sole accompanied by soupy petits pois Ã la francaise and a steak all won particular praise.
Boosted by a service charge bizarrely set at 14.5%, all this perfection does not come especially cheap. Especially in Knightsbridge, however, you could spend much more, and still emerge with far fewer stars in your eyes.
239 Brompton Rd, London, SW3 2EP
lunch noon - 3 pm, Sat & Sun 3.30 pm, dinner 6 pm - 10.30 pm
Last orders: 10.30 pm, Sun 10 pm