Walk through flower-filled Holland Park to enter a lofty-ceilinged cocoon of slightly kitsch opulence. Inside the erstwhile ballroom of Holland House there are giant mirrors, ornate lamps, silk curtains, and delicate chinoiserie wallpapering, while a gleaming trolley hosts ranks of rare whiskies and liqueurs; from the bar area tall windows look out on to gardens. There are a few modern touches too – a huge Damien Hirst butterfly painting – but attentive traditional service reinforces the feel of more old-fashioned luxury.
The Belvedere’s culinary stamp is less distinctive. Curiously, former owner Marco Pierre White’s name is still on the sign outside, though his only current connection seems to be as a remote ‘consultant’. Dishes are Modern European with a French accent, and seem to offer a bit more than they deliver. Starters of a smooth, full-flavoured mushroom tart and subtly seasoned crab cakes with peanut oil mayonnaise were the best dishes we tried; mains had a clumsy lack of balance between high-quality tuna and overpowered ratatouille, and strangely under-flavoured venison and its accompanying red cabbage.
It was all pleasant, but unmemorable; clearly diners come here (and pay the hefty prices) for the setting and the pampering, rather than for culinary adventures. The wine list is suitably grand, and inevitably pricey.