February 2020: Nobu is set to close this Mayfair restaurant on 23 March ahead of launching in Portman Square in the summer; it will be replaced by Il Borro (see also).
Harden's survey result
“Fab but SO expensive”; the Mayfair branch of Matsuhisha Nobu’s luxury, Japanese-Latino fusion brand still pleases with its “absolutely incredible food (“stunning black cod”) – it even converted my non-sushi-eating husband to sushi”. It’s no longer a celeb-magnet nowadays however, and every year, a huge proportion of reporters complain how painfully “overpriced” it is, especially given its ‘meh’ decor and iffy service.
More “brash and boisterous” than its (older) Park Lane sibling, this Mayfair venue continues to attract a steady stream of positive reviews for its “sublime sushi” and other Japanese fusion-wizardry. For how long can they keep milking the franchise as hard as they do, though? – this place seems to become ever-more “wildly overpriced” by the year.
“It still has it on the fusion-food front”, and this ‘newer Nobu’ in Mayfair inspires much more feedback and is rated considerably higher nowadays than the original Park Lane branch, particularly the ambience. The criticisms it attracts haven’t changed since day one – it’s above “a pretentious bar”, some tables are “cramped” and “canteen”-like, it can seem “grossly overpriced”, and critics feel “it’s one for the tasteless ‘in’ crowd”.
“Amazingly delicate” Japanese/South American fusion fare “made with precision” and “packed with flavour” ensures Mayfair’s second branch of this global franchise is “always popular and sometimes very busy”. But numerous sceptics feel it “trades on its reputation and celebrity status” – “despite the work that goes into the food, and the fancy schmancy location, prices are insane”, especially as “the dining room is quite rowdy, and service perfunctory”.
|Wine per bottle||£30.00|
Nobu Berkeley W1
It's old rich people who keep top restaurants going. Right? Not on the basis of a visit to Mayfair's new £80-a-head Nobu Berkeley, where your reviewing team (average age 42) were very amongst the more senior citizens present.
Are we just getting on a bit? Did that explain why the noisy 'cavern' of a bar/holding area (there's no booking for smaller parties) seemed a glamour-free zone? Is it why the waitress's uniforms seemed a bit too tarty? Is it now the done thing for chaps in the gents to juggle a mobile in one hand and a Blackberry in the other as they answer nature's call? Is it asking too much in a new, aspiring-to-be-A-list haunt to expect a table with a non-wobbling top?
Having complained about the table, we were found a seat at the sushi bar (where the full menu is also available), and we contemplated the David Collins interior in the first-floor dining room. Perhaps de Niro and pals just didn't want to pay for anything more than a slightly glossier Wagamama. Boy do they pack in those bare little wooden tables.
Mark Edwards, launch chef of the Park Lane original, was much in evidence, and the food - from a similar enormous and bewildering menu - did (to be fair) do justice to the lustrous reputation of what's now quite a large (15 branches) international chain. The Japanese-with-a-latin-twist dishes sizzled with flavour.
As ever, though, portions are dinky, and its easy to start obsessing on the price per mouthful. And - as the Mayfair original - it's not as though the rest of experience offers much compensation. Or maybe we're just too unhip to 'get it'. Or perhaps we should have been delighted at how unstuffy top gastronomy has become'
|Number of Diners:|
|Monday||12 pm‑2:30 pm, 6 pm‑11 pm|
|Tuesday||12 pm‑2:30 pm, 6 pm‑11 pm|
|Wednesday||12 pm‑2:30 pm, 6 pm‑11 pm|
|Thursday||12 pm‑2:30 pm, 6 pm‑12 am|
|Friday||12 pm‑2:30 pm, 6 pm‑12 am|
|Saturday||12:30 pm‑3 pm, 6 pm‑12 am|
|Sunday||12:30 pm‑3 pm, 6 pm‑9:45 pm|