A clubby, tightly-packed Mayfair sibling to Le Caprice and so on, attracting the glitzy clientele you might expect; the cooking, however, isn’t yet up to the standards of its nearest sibling, Scotts, though prices are quite reasonable, considering.
stars and stripes – as well as a union flag – announces the location of this latest Richard Caring group opening, just off Grosvenor Square. Hotels sometimes put out flags to honour their guests – actual or target – but it’s a rarity in the restaurant world. Perhaps they're hoping to catch the eye of Americans visiting their nearby fortress-embassy?
Within, all is money-no-object luxe, nodding to gentleman’s club style, in the manner that Martin Brudnizki has made his trademark. It’s all done so well that the result is hard to dislike, even if the lack of space between tables here isn’t something you'd have to put up with in clubland: forget confidential conversation. There are, however, two good corner tables – banquettes d’honneur you might call them – one of which was occupied by le patron on the day of our visit, and another by a distinguished-looking foreign visitor we were sure we half-recognised. It’s that sort of place. Service is notably friendly and accommodating.
The menu is perhaps open to the same criticism as the flags – it’s not quite sure where its affiliations really lie. Although this place was originally billed as the meaty equivalent of its sibling Scott’s, that’s not really how it’s turned out – though grills and other grandly clubby fare predominate, the long menu is quite wide-ranging.
On the quality of the cuisine, initial impressions were very favourable – the bread is of high quality, and a fish soup was difficult to reproach. Our guest’s pasta, however, apparently tasted as greasy as it looked, and the two main courses fell a bit flat too. The steak – we chose the cheapest, naturally, from the extensive range – had good intrinsic texture and flavour, but was marginally overcooked. Short ribs were dismissed by our guest as a bit of a mush, and he suggested, seemingly correctly, that under-seasoning is something of Leitmotif.
A shared apple tart for pudding was decent enough, but the espresso took us back into so-so territory, so all that can really be said about the quality of the cuisine here is that it appears to be consistent in its inconsistency.
The overall package, however, is perhaps more attractive than that now on offer at another sibling, Le Caprice - recently enlarged and relaunched. And - given the location, décor, clientele and so on - prices here are not notably demanding.