Berners Tavern, W1

BernersTavern Bar Berners Tavern, W1

Jason Atherton is undoubtedly the UK’s current culinary golden child.  Having left the Gordon Ramsay clan somewhat acrimoniously a few years ago, Atherton now has a portfolio of restaurants around the world that more than challenges his previous mentor.  The difference is that whilst Ramsay has screamed and sworn his way to an empire that has seen better days, Atherton is quietly going about his business to open restaurant after restaurant that can do no wrong.

It’s no surprise then that Atherton has been chosen by The London EDITION – one of the city’s most high profile new hotels for many a year – as the operator of their flagship restaurant.

And what a restaurant it is.  Designed by the formidable Ian Schrager, referring to the restaurant as a ‘Tavern’ is like comparing St Pauls Cathedral to your local church; Berners Tavern really has catapulted itself amongst London’s most lavish and dramatic dining rooms.   Inspired by the classic muted colours of Johannes Vermeer paintings and American artist Donald Judd, the room provides a subtle play between modern and period design.

High ceilings are revered in London’s increasingly congested restaurant scene and Berners looks like they could have fitted two more restaurants in the cavernous space above your head; it’s not exactly lacking drama either, with two immense bronze chandeliers inspired by NYC’s Grand Central Station taking pride of place.  Moreover, every inch of the towering walls is adorned with a selection of hand-picked art whilst a dramatic near ceiling-height bar does its part in completing the glamorous room.

Talking of which, the drinks are designed by another of London’s untouchables – bartender Gareth Evans – and are worth the trip to Berners Tavern on their own.  Cleverly named and eye-catchingly presented in all manner of quirky vessels, cocktails include the Corn on the Cobbler, a delicious mix of corn whisky, smashed citrus, dry orange curacao and roast sweetcorn syrup; and Cereal Killer with rum, white chocolate, coffee liqueur, chocolate bitters and Coco Pops milk.

The décor is clearly a tough act to follow and tasked with the challenge is Phil Carmichael, who has cooked with Jason for over ten years.  Designed for all-day dining, the seasonal British menu mostly achieves its lofty ambitions.

Signature starters kick things off on a high note, including a playful interpretation of ‘Eggs, ham & peas’ that consists of a crisp duck egg with a soft centre on a bed of mushy peas and crisp slices of salty Cumbrian ham; and a winter warmer of Crispy Romney Marsh lamb breast served with a mini saucepan of butternut & pecorino fregola topped with bone marrow.

Although beautifully cooked, mains don’t quite excite as much as the starters.  A dish of the most delicious Cumbrian English rose veal chop with lemon & hazelnut carrots and a crispy native oyster was let down by a lemon puree so bitter that I’m still squinting at the thought of it.  Much better was the perfectly pink Creedy Carver Duck and braised leg served with a melange of caramel apples, pickled plum puree and turnips that had the perfect balance of sweet and sharp flavours.   Portions were pretty generous so dessert was a shared affair of a Cinnamon coated donut filled with an oozing chocolate sauce and accompanied by an almond sorbet.

Food: 4/5
Venue: 5/5
Value: 3.5/5

Cuisine: Modern European
Dinner for two (excluding drinks): £80
Cocktails: £12.50
Wine: £7

Berners Tavern
The London Edition Hotel
10 Berners St
London W1T 3LF
Tel: 020 7908 7979
www.bernerstavern.com

minilink Berners Tavern, W1