Harden's survey result
“Outstanding in every way”, say fans of Marcus Wareing’s calm Belgravia temple of gastronomy: “a big room, where the setting of each table feels very private”, and where the “expertly crafted and seasonal” cuisine (under chef patrons, Mark and Shauna Froydenlund) is, they feel, “expensive, but oh-so-worth it”. For a large minority in the last survey, though, its “daft” prices defied comprehension, and some of those recalling the era when Marcus himself was more regularly at the stoves felt that “compared with ten years ago, it’s not a patch on what it was”.
“Outstanding in every way”, say fans of Marcus Wareing’s calm Belgravia temple of gastronomy: “a big room, where the setting of each table feels very private”, and where the “expertly crafted and seasonal” cuisine (under chef patrons, Mark and Shauna Froydenlund) is, they feel, “expensive, but oh-so-worth it”. For a large minority, though, its “daft” prices defy comprehension, and those who remember the era when Marcus himself was more regularly at the stoves feel that “compared with ten years ago, it’s not a patch on what it was”.
Marcus Wareing’s “quietly luxurious” Belgravia dining room is one of London’s best-known temples of gastronomy and for its very many fans it fully lives up to that reputation with its “balanced, precise and beautifully presented cuisine”, “discreet and attentive service”, and its “spacious and elegant” quarters (“if you want to seal a business deal, then just wow them with dinner in this place, which strikes that delicate balance between formal and relaxed!”). Not absolutely everyone is wowed though – in particular, the prices can seem plain “silly”. STOP PRESS: Those not wowed now includes the Michelin Man who demoted Marcus from two stars to one in October 2018.
Marcus Wareing’s “spacious” and “peaceful” Belgravia chamber is “the epitome of what a special restaurant should be” for its very many admirers, not least when it comes to the “incredible” cooking with “maximum flavours to the fore”, be it from the à la carte, or 5- and 8-course tasting options. However, its ratings are dragged down by a vociferous minority who diss the “disengaged” service and an experience where “everything is fine but nothing is great”: is that second Michelin star just boosting expectations too high?
For 30 years we've been curating reviews of the UK's most notable restaurant. In a typical year, diners submit over 50,000 reviews to create the most authoritative restaurant guide in the UK. Each year, the guide is re-written from scratch based on this survey (although for the 2021 edition, reviews are little changed from 2020 as no survey could run for that year).
Have you eaten at Marcus, The Berkeley?
|Wine per bottle||£38.00|
A supposedly informal revamp of Marcus Wareing's grand Knightsbridge hotel dining room; the food on our lunchtime visit was enjoyable and quite good value, but the style of service remains as fundamentally ancien-régime as ever, and some may find the atmosphere oppressive.
Marcus is the new name for Marcus Wareing. Not the man of course, but his flagship restaurant at the Berkeley hotel - one of the grander classic dining rooms in town, recently revamped. Oddly. With brown Chesterfield-studded banquettes rubbing shoulders, so to speak, with 70s-sci-fi-style spots and very noughties bare filament bulbs, there seem to be stylistic nods to almost all decades from the '70s onwards (the 1870s, that is).
The same confusion seems apparent on the formality front. Marcus (the man) made a lot of fuss about how there was to be a new laid-back tone at 'Marcus'. Really? However friendly and efficient they are, legions of smartly dressed chaps in dark suits and sober ties are not remotely informal. White table cloths are not informal. Nor is relentless de-crumbing or Michelin-pleasing recital of the dishes (which don't, themselves, actually seem all that different under the supposedly new régime, though the menus are differently configured).
Which is all a bit of a shame because the food, certainly as sampled from the relatively reasonably-priced lunch menu (£38 for three courses) is not bad value, considering. Indeed, it's arguably priced a bit too reasonably for you to expect much in the way of fireworks, and these were duly absent from our meal, thoroughly competent as it was.
But does it ever occur, though, to sommeliers that people who've opted for the cheapo lunch menu perhaps don't want to pay almost as much for a small glass of wine as they are paying for their main course? (Pollock 'n' lobster. Very precisely timed, which is of course what fish cookery is all about.) Should the customer really have to ask how much the glass the sommelier is proposing costs before ordering it? Perhaps when you are in charge of a list on which some of the four-digit numbers could as easily be years as prices, it's easy to get blasé? But it all contributes to a general feeling which younger-at-heart (or in wallet) visitors may find some way from being relaxing.
Indeed, it was something of a relief to emerge into the Berkeley's bar, which had an air of jollity missing from the solemn dining room beyond those heavy double doors. Indeed - with execrable '70s pop blaring out as 'background' music - the bar seems to have gone determinedly 'the other way'.
In this era of informality, five star hotels - just like the restaurants within them - seem to be having a lot of difficulty in pitching their offers right.
Wilton Pl, London, SW1X 7RL
|Number of Diners:|
|Monday||12 pm‑2:30 pm, 6 pm‑9:45pm|
|Tuesday||12 pm‑2:30 pm, 6 pm‑9:45pm|
|Wednesday||12 pm‑2:30 pm, 6 pm‑9:45pm|
|Thursday||12 pm‑2:30 pm, 6 pm‑9:45pm|
|Friday||12 pm‑3 pm, 5:30 pm‑9:45pm|
|Saturday||12 pm‑3 pm, 5:30 pm‑9:45pm|
|Sunday||12 pm‑3:30 pm, 5:30 pm‑9 pm|