As a playground of the wealthy, Mayfair has more than its fair share of amazing restaurants. Cuisines range from Asian (Princess Garden) to British (Corrigan's Mayfair) and everything in between. But the French restaurants, like Le Gavroche or Hélène Darroze at the Connaught, really stand out here. Though, really, it's hard to go wrong when eating out in Mayfair.
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Nearly all of our fellow diners at 34 were Americans: the sort who roll up their sleeves to talk loudly about Mitt Romney. But that’s what half of Mayfair is like, a bubble of foreign wealth that bears little relationship to most Londoners’ lives. This establishment and the international super-rich live in symbiosis.
Don’t be put off by the gimmicky concept or swanky addresses of the four branches of this Russian-owned chain; this sleek eatery represents remarkably good value for money… if you order the lobster. As you walk through the door in the Mayfair branch (an attractively converted pub), a blackboard tells you all you need to know about the menu: you may order a lobster (boiled, grilled or in a brioche roll with mayonnaise), or you may have a burger.
Cecconi’s, located just behind the Royal Academy, shows London at its most cosmopolitan. A chic restaurant and bar with wraparound windows and striped marble floors, it’s part of the cool Soho House group. Service comes from classy white-jacketed staff and food is served all day – everything from egg white omelette to lobster spaghetti. The fare is pleasingly simple rather than imaginative.
Sir David Tang’s slinky dining room in the Dorchester’s basement successfully manages to banish all thoughts of hotel restaurants from diners’ minds. The separate Park Lane entrance helps, as do art deco furnishings evoking 1930s Shanghai. Only the moneyed, multinational clientele remind you of the locality.
As your coats are taken and reservations checked, a pianist tinkles away on a baby grand by the entrance of Richard Corrigan’s Mayfair restaurant. If stopping for a drink, you’re led to a long marble bar topped with individual railway-style lamps; those eating continue to the dusky, romantically lit dining room, which has any solemnity removed by humorous feathered lampshades and metal bird sculptures.
This restaurant colossus offers unapologetically old-school fine dining. First opened in Chelsea in 1967 by the Roux brothers, Albert and Michel, it’s now run by Michel Roux Jr who took the reins in 1991. Le Gavroche continues to be the go-to haute cuisine establishment for a dignified, extremely wealthy crowd (our reservation took three months to secure).
‘Bringing the New York steakhouse to London.’ Not the most original brief, but this (Russian-owned) newcomer has a decent stab at bringing Manhattan to Mayfair: dark-wood panelling, inviting leather booths, a bar counter running the length of the restaurant, and staff so chatty and involved in your order they practically sit down to eat with you. (Our waiter gave us a five-minute wine discourse, talking through the choice of 20-odd on the red-heavy list.)
Patron-chef Karam Sethi has added a new venture to his line-up of Trishna (a suavely modern Indian restaurant in Marylebone) and Bubbledogs (Charlotte Street’s hot-dogs and fizz trendster). Gymkhana has the look and feel of an Indian colonial club with its retro ceiling fans, marble table-tops, and yesteryear photos of polo and cricket team triumphs.
It takes just a couple of steps along the decked, tree-lined entrance of this Mayfair mews restaurant for a sense of oasis and calm to descend – an atmosphere that is deliberately cultivated and carried through to the cool, well-spaced dining room. Solicitous greetings abound the moment you cross the threshold; the Greenhouse is a place where chairs are tweaked, tables brushed and every detail seen to by a considerate team.
28°-50° Wine Workshop & Kitchen
This Maddox Street restaurant-cum-wine bar is one of three 28°-50° venues in London – there are siblings over on Marylebone Road and Fetter Lane. It's a group of venues from Agnar Sverrisson, the man behind Michelin starred Texture. There's even emphasis on wine and food here, with more than 30 different wines available by the glass, carafe or bottle. And if you want something really special? A selection from the sommelier offers accessible fine wines, or there's a separate 'collector' wine list, featuring fine and rare wines sourced from respected merchants and private collectors. The food menu is influenced by cuisines from across the globe, though modern-European dishes dominate. Expect dishes such as cep risotto, grilled octopus with chorizo, barbecue pulled pork sandwich or grilled Canadian lobster with aïoli, garlic butter and salad leaves. Keep an eye out for brunch and lunch offers, too.
"‘Winter special’. Aberdeen angus rib-eye steak or seared yellowfin tuna, chips or a salad and a glass of wine, £21.50. Available noon-close."