I don’t really understand the Michelin Star system and truth be told, I don’t really care too much about the much feted restaurant guide. I’ve been to far too many great restaurants without them and a number of mediocre restaurants who do hold the coveted accolade to realise that it doesn’t really mean much.
The Capital Restaurant is a prime example of the inconsistencies of the system. With a change of chef in late 2009, Michelin took it upon themselves to strip the venue of its two Stars. What we experienced, however, was a slick, polished restaurant, full of character and one that delivered a seemingly endless catalogue of irresistible dishes – truly one of London’s outstanding dining experiences.
The restaurant is housed in the Capital Hotel, an intimate venue offering luxury accommodation and old-school charm that most of London’s larger, more high profile hotels can only dream of. The hotel has actually been around for over 40 years and is largely credited with creating the boutique hotel concept.
We started with a couple excellent cocktails in the bar, including a classic example of a Champagne cocktail. We also took the opportunity to peruse the menu before deciding that the seven-course tasting menu looked too delicious to turn-down, especially when ordered with the optional wine pairings. The keen-eyed will also notice that their extensive wine list is far more accessibly priced than many restaurants of a similar calibre, due to its policy of low mark-ups.
The restaurant’s new chef, Jérôme Ponchelle, has created a menu that keeps to The Capital’s ethos of the finest in classical cooking with a French influence. With our palettes moving away from foams, jellies and other airy-fairy concoctions, the menu is actually particularly relevant to our times despite being of the fine-dining variety. The quality is also outstanding throughout. Langoustine was beautifully accompanied by delicate sauce vierge; Foie gras with Sauternes & apple foam really tickled the tastebuds; Fillet of Dover sole ‘Thermidor’ delivered a rich, robust flavour; and Roast fillet of lamb ‘Grand Mère’ (a melange of bacon, mushrooms & potatoes) provided a stunning twist on the classic chicken dish.
Come dessert time, we were easily persuaded into adding in a cheese course after seeing the tempting trolley glide past. This was followed by a dessert of Hazelnut Gianduja sponge, caramelised white chocolate foam. However, just when we thought our dessert course (and meal) was complete, a final masterstroke appeared in the form of the inspired dish of Roast pineapple with star anise, crème brulee & hibiscus sorbet.
Cuisine type: French
Dinner for two (excluding drinks): £70/head
The Capital Restaurant @ The Capital Hotel
22 Basil Street
London, SW3 1AT
Tel: 020 7589 5171