Park Chinois is so atmospheric, I wasn’t sure if I was in Mayfair, or if I’d travelled through time and space to 1930s Shanghai. If its fancy Berkeley Street neighbours are the Joneses, then this beautiful restaurant is more than keeping up.
Impressions were spotless from the off. As you walk up the stairs to the entrance you’ll be greeted by a bright pink cherry blossom tree and a wonderfully enigmatic doorman. Entering the lobby, you’re disarmed by a wall of heat from the roaring fire and a host of charming, well, hosts. Led into the restaurant proper, you’ll find yourself in an atmospheric jazz club; covered in rich red velvet and with an abundance of fringing, heavy swathes of taffeta draped over the curtains, with lounge-style tables and curved chairs positioned towards a jazz quartet. It’s the perfect location for a date – instead of pretending to care how someone’s day was, you can sit next to each other in comfortable silence while the jazz plays.
And whether you decide to live out some sort of ‘Lady and the Tramp’ fantasy or not, order the park carbonara – slinky udon, rich orange yolk, umami-packed sea urchin, pansies and nori dust. It was a brilliant, Asian ode to the classic Italian dish. Elsewhere, the famous duck, though incredibly full-flavoured, was cut into chunky pieces rather than being shredded – best reserved for dinner with friends as it’s not particularly conducive to ladylike eating. The same goes for the delicious smoky ribs.
With a theatrical setting, clever cocktails, thoroughly charming staff and a relaxed atmosphere, especially given how high-end it is – Park Chinois, I get a kick out of you.