The owners’ preferred name for this bar-brasserie is ‘HUNter486 at The Arch London’. But once you get past the moniker no-one will use, you find a very smart new five-star boutique hotel with attractively upmarket design and a very cosy feel.
The bar and dining rooms run into each other with high-sided circular leather booths and secluded areas, some of which can be curtained off for added privacy. It’s low-lit, well upholstered, quiet, and service is professional and discreet.
The bartender in charge of the small bar area dispenses a top-class selection of spirits in beautiful glassware, including some excellent Martinis. Renowned drinks consultants The Gorgeous Group have created the list, and our female bartender’s version of an Earl Grey Martini (£8) was sublime: beautiful to behold, and with a gin base flavoured with sweet and sour notes below an egg-white foam aromatic of iced tea, garnished with lemon peel.
A 40-strong choice of wines runs all the way up to a Château Margaux 1er Cru 1998 (£475), while the Musetti 202 coffee has been specially blended for the bar.
The dining room’s menu is brief and, after the excitement of the look of the hotel and excellent drinks list, disappointing. A hotel restaurant near Marble Arch has to cater to all sorts of tastes, at all times of the day, and the result is a list of lowest-common-denominator dishes – Caesar salad, beef burger, steak and chips, pizza.
There’s attention to detail, though, and it’s possible to order more imaginatively. A basket of good breads kept us going until the charcuterie platter arrived – moist salamis, bresaola and Parma ham, though neither waitress nor kitchen could tell us where they sourced this from. Pork belly, currently in fashion, was cooked tender but the arrangement of accompanying braised baby leeks, dabs of pumpkin purée and chunks of porcini mushroom did look as if they’d been scattered across the plate.
Fish pie, at £12.50, should be an easy enough dish to get right. But ours was way too salty, and the little terracotta saucepan it was presented in contained a lot more prawn than fish in a rather mealy sauce. Desserts included bread-and-butter pudding, chocolate fondant, pannacotta – the greatest hits of contemporary puds, all priced at £7.50.
Hunter 486, or The Arch, or whatever you choose to call it, is great for a quiet drink and small bite, but it’s no destination restaurant. It is, however, near-perfect for a romantic assignation, and rooms currently start from around £210.