As our wallets have fattened during the recent economic boom, so has our interest in food & drink and it’s chefs who have been amongst the biggest beneficiaries. These most ego-driven of creatures have been thrust from the relatively thankless confines of their kitchens into the world of universal adulation and glamour that is television. More recently, however, celeb chefs have come under fire for spending too much in television studios and not enough in the restaurants that made their name. So it was to my great delight that during my recent lunch visit I found the brilliant Jun Tanaka working his magic for his customers and not the TV cameras!
Located in a Grade II listed building, the restaurant is expectedly grand, with high ceilings, a quarry full of rare marble and 1million hand strung pearls adorning the décor. You definitely know you’re somewhere special, but it’s also got an inviting and relaxed feel to it, making it equally suitable for a few casual drinks in the bar or a full blown culinary experience. A few stunning cocktails by head barman Gustavo Bertolucci set the tone for the afternoon.
The menu claims to provide a modern take on French cuisine, although it’s more of a melange of internationally inspired dishes made using classic French techniques. Starters of Sardine tempura was as light as anything you’re likely to find in Jun’s native Japan whilst my dinky yet meaty Sausage roll was accompanied by white beans in a rich tomato sauce and deeply smoked mashed potato; quintessential British working mans food created with a touch of sophistication that only the French could get away with!
For mains the Roast black chicken with a rich swede and potato gratin & morels stunningly elevated a classic country style French dish into the realms of fine dining. My Roast veal & crispy belly was altogether a more delicate affair, providing little explosions of intense flavour with every bite, although this was cleverly contrasted with cheeky little pieces of creamy macaroni. Dessert included an unassuming sounding Prune & custard tart which turned out to be devilishly creamy and perfectly offset by the slightly sharp prunes; Mr Pants actually claimed it to be his favourite dessert ever! As you can imagine, wines are a big part of the restaurant, with over 40 bins available by the glass. However, the innovative nature of Pearl is highlighted by the fact that they have also created a beer and food matching option.
We finished our lunch in the bar, with a light & zingy Mint chocolate martini. Shaken at your table for a touch of theatre it summed up our meal perfectly – an all encompassing dining experience, which provided captivating presentation, smart service and most importantly, stunning execution of food and drink.
Cuisine: Modern French
Meal for 2 (excluding drinks): £29/head for lunch, £55/head for dinner
Pearl Restaurant & Bar
252 High Holborn
London WC1V 7EN
Phone: 020 7829 7000