“The Social Life Take 2”
The following week. It’s my sisters 50th. She doesn’t look it in fairness. In fact I’d go as far as to say she doesn’t look a day over 38. She wanted to go to a high end restaurant. Somewhere with a buzz. One of these trendy places that you read about in the magazines. My sister , lets call her Sharon ( it is her name after all ), has never really done the fine-dining thing. For quite a few years working in the city, she had always knocked back invites to here there and everywhere with the odd exception, sacrificing Nights out for going home to the kids, which is fair enough. Here she was at 50, now ready to dip her tiny toe into the water… And good for her I say!
Well, you’re only 50 once right!… So as part of my birthday present to her We, that’s the wife and I, agreed to foot the bill for a meal out somewhere. My brother and his wife would also join us for the celebration. The last part of the equation being exactly where to take her. I love my sister dearly but she is the sort of girl that likes her steak well done… And some.
Still, I’m up for a challenge, and this one consisted of finding a restaurant that’s very much on the hot list of places to go, had a varied menu, and most importantly of all, serves great food. Having been to Pollen Street the week before, the Atherton group of restaurants were at the forefront of my mind. I’ve never been to places like The Wolesley, The Delauney, or Hawksmoor, but I’ve read reviews and magazines etc etc. They all sound stonkingly good and after studying the menu were all in the running.
I also needed to find a restaurant with flavours to compliment my sisters own palate.
Well, we have already covered how she likes her steak. Her main beef ( no pun intended ), is the blood. If there is any inkling of blood it will go straight back to the kitchen. I wouldn’t mind seeing my 5ft tall sibling going toe to toe with Rammo over her rare to medium steak. Beware Gordon, she might be small but she has a serious bite on her!
Fish is a definite no-go. I think the closest my sister has got to fish is visiting Sea World. I’m kidding. We just aren’t big fish eaters.. We obviously get our fussy food genes from my mothers side. My aunt ( our mums sister just for the record ), once tore a strip off of a chef just for having the nerve to sprinkle parsley onto a plain omelette!
Anyway, after much deliberation, I went for the selfish option. It’s certainly one of THE places to go , but admittedly it was of my choosing. Checking on Open Table, I was quite shocked that, The Berners Tavern had a reservation available for 3:30pm. Opened to rave reviews in 2013 it was a restaurant I was seriously looking forward to visiting. I just hoped that my sister Sharon would embrace the experience and enjoy it. She deserved the best day possible.
Very quick history lesson here. The Berners Tavern is situated inside the London EDITION Hotel, part of the “hip” subsidiary of the Marriott hotel group. Formerly the Berners Street Hotel in the Fitzrovia area of London, through the vision of Ian Schrager it has been transformed into an unbelievable place to stay, with prices to match I might add. The hotel, once five townhouses has been the living quarters of some seriously wealthy and notable people in the past including Carl Faberge and King Edward VII. It is also famous for the ” Berners Street Hoax ” in 1810. The street that is, not the hotel.
The position of the hotel, just a bit further down from the exclusive Sanderson Hotel ( also designed by Schrager ), will certainly make the road one of the most popular choices for the wealthy tourists of the world. I would suggest it could be interesting to see how each hotel compares with the competition.
Lets continue shall we. We arrived in good time. After a cheeky half, in one of the backstreet pubs, the four of us mooch down to our destination. Opting to enter through the hotel entrance as opposed to the restaurant, it genuinely took my breath away. With luxurious green sofas and a giant egg for a chandelier, it was opulent, but not totally in your face. Understated class. Then again if you pay for the best, in theory you get the best. They say first impressions count. My thinking was bloody awesome choice Mr. Rolls. It has to be said that all four us were extremely smiley as we chose a cocktail from the extensive list available.
Like I said, if it were solely about first impressions the The Berners Tavern would win every award going. What an incredible venue to eat in. The high ceilings, all the paintings, the sheer theatre of it all cannot be underestimated. As we made our way into the restaurant and found ourselves seats at the bar the birthday girl was grinning from ear to ear. So far so good!. After a second cocktail, the Vintage Vesper ( well someone has to try them ), we were shown to our booth almost in the centre of the room. I cannot repeat enough the jaw – dropping scale of this room.
Seated and comfortable, we ordered a nice Chenin Blanc; if memory serves me correctly. Now the difficult bit. Ordering food. I have no idea what the chaps name was who was looking after us. Scrap that, he is a Mr. Chris Bakowski. I will say this though, he was absolutely brilliant. I’ve been to places before when it’s frowned upon if you don’t know your Omelette from your ostrich. I don’t know why but I never expect to be served by someone who sounds just like me, or who looks as ruffled in a suit; coincidentally just like me. Talk about how to make people feel relaxed. What an absolute star he was. To try and explain to all of us what half the ingredients in the dishes were, was a task in itself. He tackled it with confidence and wit. Superb managerial tact.
My sister, went for the safe option as a starter. The Berners Tavern Chopped Salad with Chicken. My newly wed SIL ( sister-in-law ) chose the Pumpkin Risotto, while both my brother and I took a shot at the Potato & Chicken Broth. The salad must have been delicious as it’s very rare for big sis to be quiet for more than five minutes. I’m joking, I’m joking!..She even pushed the boat out tasting the jus. Go Girl! I thoroughly enjoyed my broth as did my sibling Kev. The Risotto went down a treat. Certainly a good start.
The newly weds decided to twin up on their mains both having the Roasted Goosnargh Chicken with Bacon and Mashed Potato. I opted for the Cornish Cod. Wow Wow Wow! Without doubt the finest main course I have had this year. I’m not a huge aficionado when it comes to our sea bearing morsels but this baby would take some beating. Melt in your mouth stuff, just serious chef-er-y ( yes I made that up I think ) at its highest level. The taste matched the look, and believe me it looked pretty scintillating.
Sharon went for the Romney Marsh Lamb and devoured it, along with a side order of chips. In her own words it was ” better than Burger King ” she mocked. You gotta love a back handed compliment. Mr. Bakowski done a secondary check to make sure all was well. Sharon replied with something like ” this is amazing thank you “. Definitely the wine was having an effect. Along with the Pimms and cocktails as we were all feeling a little tipsy.
Talking of which we ordered a 2nd bottle of vino, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Lovely it was too. It was dessert time. Sweeeeet!… Or not. Sadly as a person who writes without the assistance of any John O’Groats ( notes ), having waited 6 weeks to write this I now can’t remember for the life of me what my sister and I ate. I do however recall that my SIL had a coffee. Old school normal coffee. Not a mocha, cappuccino or latte in sight.
There was some confusion over our last course, maybe that’s why I haven’t a scooby over what I had. First off we recieved four plates. Then a waitress took two away. Then the other two. Then brought two back. It was a little comical really. I’ve no idea what the problem was but after a short period of two young ladies discussing the predicament it was all sorted and our final course arrived. Looking back I think one dessert was ready but the other was still in the development area backstage. Confusion reigned supreme …for all of five minutes.
Peaches, Sharon ate peaches of some form and I went down the apple route. Cheers for reminding me of the desserts sis.. I had to ring and ask the other 3 folk present as I simply cannot remember. An apple tarte tatin I think it was although hand on heart I couldn’t say for sure, and I was a very happy little eater. I wish I could remember the names, ingredients etc etc more clearly but cocktails, wine, and beer eventually took their toll. Probably another reason, I’m not a good reviewer! Gets drunk, can’t remember what he ate ( or drank ), … Actually I sound perfect for the job!
Once the meal was over, we grabbed our coats and fluffy bob-tailed it towards Leicester Square, diving back to collect a forgotten umbrella, to meet my good lady who was partaking in a ghostly walk of London.
There you have it. Berners Tavern in one fell swoop. Two down, one to go. For the record, marks out of 10:
Ambience/Atmosphere = 10
Service = 8.5
Food = 9.5 ( main course/starters both deserve 10s though )
See you at Little Social.