London’s best hotels seem to attract the best of the best in fine dining too, like Marcus Wareing at Berkeley, Dinner at Mandarin Oriental and Helene Darroze at the Connaught. This perfect match of elegance in both food and ambiance has brought some ideal restaurants for those special occasions, especially the romantic ones. Apsleys at the Lanesborough hotel is a great example, a beautiful skylighted dining room with Heinz Beck’s creativity poured into a series of mindblowingly good Italian dishes. It has it all.
Heinz Beck has a three star Michelin restaurant at Rome and Apsleys was his first venture outside Italy, which he entrusted Massimiliano Blasone to look after. With their creative minds, a selection of modern Italian dishes combines both innovative thinking and authentic flavours. Normally I’m a bit weary of these hotel restaurants, in case they decide to mark up everything from tea sugar to still water, even worse if all the money was wasted on mediocre food. On the price side, it’s definitely very expensive with mains that’ll easily set you back £30 without looking through some very expensive wines. But at least the food was good, making those expensive special occasions worth well.
A group of us arrived at the Apsleys for a close friend’s birthday party, which she generously booked the private dining room. Rather than situated in a closed up corner, the room was only partially concealed with windows that looked out to the beautiful main dining room. It was a quiet place, we could hardly hear anyone talking through the window so we tried to contain ourselves a little too. The five course tasting menu was ordered for the table with lots of wine.
A bread basket went around the table, including some bread sticks, focaccia, brown and a few others. Rather than bread, it should be called bread crust as none of us could taste the usually bouncy bread dough. Also difficult to control all the flakes snowing on the table from the crust. I’m not sure how they made bread into this unique texture but I’ve tried a similar one from the Bath Priory.
I loved this petite arancini, a very thin crispy coating wrapped the mushroom risotto filling. The pea cream was great too, flavoursome and not too creamy.
Wild seabass with papaya and cucumber
I wasn’t a huge fan of this dish, just like a diced sashimi rather than something special. The papaya and cucumber were both undetectable, no refreshing scent or juicy sweetness.
Game Tortellini, pumpkin and parmesan cream
The quality of this pasta was outstanding, definitely the best dish on the menu. The pasta was firm, almost tough which was perfect compared to some soggy ones we often find. Game filling was a first for me but it was exceptionally done, the evident gamey flavour was unmissable. Lightly supported by the fragrant pumpkin cream for a rich texture but light flavour. Possibly one of the best pasta dishes I’ve had so far.
Scallop with tomato vinaigrette
I tend to find scallops at fine dining restaurants very similar, various ways of dressings or combos but still keeping the clean flavour and the jelly texture. This was another one that cooked and seasoned well.
Fillet of beef cooked in red wine
The beef fillet came exactly how I wanted, medium rare. Lovely pink coloured as if red wine was poured on after, which was soaked all the way through. A small piece of foie gras was casually tossed on the side, like a hidden treasure waiting to be noticed but not the main character of the dish.
Amadei “Chuao” chocolate dome
Apparently Amedei is the most expensive chocolate in the world and a small piece of edible gold was placed on top to match its glorious status. It was very rich and dark with thin layers of praline and chocolate mousse, further sweetened by the lines of caramel running parallel to the ice cream. A very rich dessert that I enjoyed a few bites but quickly resorted to tea and coffee. The Louis XV chocolate from Gauthier is better.
Verdict - 4/5
Food (very good) - the food at Apsleys was very good, especially the pasta. The tasting menu wasn’t all good, some disappointing dishes but nothing bad. Overall a great restaurant that I’d come back to try more dishes from the a la carte.
Service (professional) - the skylighted dining room was one of the most beautiful restaurants I’ve seen in London and the service matched it well. Professional yet friendly and all the dishes arrived at the perfect timing. This would be the ideal location to pop the question!
Cost (expensive) - the five course tasting menu for dinner was priced at £65. My friend got the bill for the table so I have no clue how steep the bill was.