iPods, Sat Navs, Blackberrys – all iconic symbols and essential tools for the modern world, yet all completely lacking any sort of personality or character. But I wonder – how many of us miss the charm of old-school technology? Does anyone remember the last time they hand wrote a meaningful letter or wound down to the sweet sound of vinyl? This applies to the food world as well. Restaurants are so intent on becoming the ‘next big thing’ that they often forget that the ‘last big thing’ really didn’t need changing. Fortunately for us foodies, we still have restaurants like Bentley’s to provide the best of a bygone era.
Bentley’s first opened its doors in 1916 and our visit was filled with the same timeless class and glamour that I’m sure the original visitors were treated to. The restaurant was restored to something of its former glory around 4 years ago by former Great British Menu winner Richard Corrigan and combines an intimate Champagne Bar with a relaxed and wonderfully nostalgic Oyster Bar and a more formal Grill restaurant. With a stunning meal in the Oyster Bar already under our ever-expanding belts, we decided to dine in the charmingly old-school Grill.
Richard Corrigan’s menu is largely made up of seafood dishes for which Bentley’s has earned its reputation, although there are also a handful of meat dishes to keep the carnivores happy. Seeing as oyster season had just started, we decided to dive straight into a fresh plate of Britain’s finest with a perfectly matched glass of Grüner Veltliner. Starters were a masterful creation of Baby squid stuffed with chorizo & feta and a perfectly dress Crab.
Mains somehow managed to impress further. Again keeping seasonal, the Grouse was beautifully cooked & warming with a lovely glass of Marlborough Pinot Noir. Miss Pancake’s Royal Fish Pie was generously filled with lobster, scallops, Tiger prawns & haddock and was deemed good enough to serve to The Queen; indeed, it tasted decadent enough to stick on one’s head and call a crown! Puddings included a simple Chocolate brownie with cherries and a clever creation of Walnut meringue with espresso Chantilly & chocolate sorbet.
So we loved the food, but we loved the entire experience too. The whole venue is full of character and warmth that you just don’t see in restaurants any more. Staff were slick and knowledgeable but also friendly and proud to be working there. Bentley’s provides one of the finest dining experiences in London and shows that sometimes we need to look to the past to move forwards.
Cuisine type – British
Dinner for 2 (ex. drinks) – £100
Wine – £6
The Grill @ Bentley’s
11-15 Swallow Street
020 7734 4756