A most satisfactory weekend kicked off with dinner at Bentley’s, the Piccadilly seafood restaurant revamped a year or so go by Richard Corrigan. Corrigan is something of hero, partly because he has kept his TV appearances below saturation point, but mostly because of his faith in simply yet creatively combining the best seasonal ingredients. I have been to Lindsay House on a number of occasions and have loved it every time. I always recommend it to people looking for a treat and have never heard a bad word.
With such pedigree I have to say Bentley’s disappointed a little. There was very little wrong with any of the dishes, indeed some - my starter of smoked eel and bacon with horseradish and Evie’s tranche of plaice with broccoli and Hollandaise in particular - were exceptional. And there’s no denying, the William Morris setting is elegance itself. But there were little niggles here and there that ultimately served only to remind you just how good Lindsay House really is. The gaps between service were just a little too long. The sommelier was just a shade less helpful and enthusiastic than I would have liked. The third of a trio of homemade breads was a bland and stale white affair that threatened to let down the amazing soda bread (moistened with treacle to a cake-like consistency), the punchy sourdough and the canary yellow organic butter (which Corrigan ships in specially all the way from Swindon). The “Royal” fish pie proved to be just a fish pie, a good one, certainly, but nothing I couldn’t have easily knocked up at home if I’d shelled out on lobster and scallop as well as the usual suspects.
In any other restaurant these niggles would have been quickly forgotten - it was, after all, really a very very good meal. But knowing what the same chef turns out elsewhere, you can’t help thinking you’re getting the B Team at the Bentley. The one exception (among the front of house staff) was the Maitre d’, who was friendly, charming and clearly had a passion for the job and the food she was selling. Just hope she doesn’t get promoted across town.
Saturday demanded a trip to Borough Market, which was absolutely crammed with foodies and tourists celebrating its 250th birthday. A top ploughman’s in the Wheatsheaf as ever, followed by a couple of interesting beers while dodging the showers at the Rake. A fun evening at the Hawksmoor followed, which Howard has helpfully recollected just below this post.
And Sunday was just about spot on. Woke up with the perfect hangover: strong enough to make it all seem worthwhile but not enough to do any lasting damage. I needed to replenish the stock stocks in the freezer, so the oven went on early to brown the carcasses I bought at the market while I caught up on the Archers and chopped the veg into suitably rustic chunks. The rest of the day was given over to slow simmering and delicious aromas that threatened to take over the whole house, not just my little flat. A pint or so would later form the basis of a modest but moreish improvised rabbit stew. Sundays don’t get much better.
Bentley's, 11-15 Swallow Street, W1B 4DG. 020 7734 4756