No disrespect to my stunning pals, but I never have I ever dined this close to a masterpiece. At Mount St Restaurant however, I found myself eating mere inches from a Matisse, and an arm’s length away from a Lucian Freud. There’s a Warhol here, a Louise Bourgeois there, a Picasso around the corner, and a custom marble floor mural by contemporary conceptual artist Rashid Johnson. All in all, there are 200 world-class pieces of art, worth a combined total of £50 million. Ludicrous. Before you get to exec chef Jamie Shears’s outrageously good menu of elevated trad British dining classics, this five-floor palace is well worth a gawp.
Mount St opened in October, the first London-based project from Artfarm, a hospitality group founded by the same folk behind the hugely respected gallerists Hauser & Wirth, and who already run the acclaimed Roth Bar & Grill at their elegant space in Bruton, Somerset. The location is punchy, right in the heart of Mayfair’s most seasoned dining parade near the swish likes of Scott’s and Jamavar, and includes the revamped Audley Public House on the ground floor – complete with a custom ceiling by Phyllida Barlow. But what could have just been an opportunity to get some of the back catalogue out of storage, has quickly become the capital’s most talked-about new restaurant opening. Even King Charles has been here, choosing to eat with Camilla in the main public room, rather than one of the spectacular private dining rooms. These you access by a psychedelic stairway wallpapered with a design by American artist Paul McCarthy which features Santa brandishing a butt plug. McCarthy’s similarly lewd solid silver salt and pepper shakers adorn every dining table. The King was not available for comment.
I found myself eating mere inches from a Matisse, an arm’s length away from a Lucian Freud
The menu itself is befitting of such a grand Victorian building. Rather than match the art with aggressively modern cuisine, the food here is traditional British fare with a touch of contemporary grace. Mock turtle comes in croquette form, with oyster mayo and a pretty herb salad, while an Omelette Arnold Bennett bests that of the nearby Wolseley; packed with perfectly flaky haddock, and the egg just wet enough. An ostentatiously rich lobster pie comes with the beast’s head plunked in the middle, while a chunky side of deep fried bubble and squeak with HP sauce chums up nicely with thyme-spiked glazed carrots. For pudding, a heroic raspberry blancmange defied our suspicious expectations, and a showy blackcurrant- and-liquorice soufflé was like something out of a Nancy Mitford novel. If sweets aren’t your thing, there’s a savouries offering with Gentleman’s Relish and cucumber toast, as well as rarebit.
Mount St Restaurant is, naturally, very expensive. The lobster pie, spectacular as it is, is £96 for two. The jauntily named Pigeons in Pimlico – which comes with duck liver, bacon and red cabbage – is £46, while loin of Highland venison is £46 and dover sole £56. Cocktails, such as the May Fair Lady, with champagne, foraged wild blackberry and fig-leaf liqueur, are gorgeous, but £18 a pop. When you’re the actual King, this kind of pricing is no biggie, but this is serious investment eating for everyone else. But Mount St’s incredible collection of heavy-duty art, which you’re so close to that you could actually lick it, kind of makes it everything worth it.
The vibe Very fancy, very chic, very ‘I go to Frieze a lot’.
The food Upscale vintage British classics.
The drinks £18 cocktails and a wine list as long as ‘Middlemarch’.
Time Out tip Don’t forget the sides. They’re the cheapest thing on the menu and maybe the most delicious.