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’