We select three of the best Michelin-star restaurants in Mayfair
We select three of the best Michelin-star restaurants in Mayfair
When it comes to gastronomy, London is one of the most dynamic culinary capitals in the world. From light Mediterranean tapas to flavourful Asian fusion, its array of restaurants and eateries offer diverse, innovative plates that look as good as they taste. Fine dining is easy in the city and in Mayfair – a playground for the well-heeled – it’s the norm for its residents.
If you’re in the area – or even if you’re not – our top three picks of Mayfair’s Michelin-starred restaurants will be sure to spark your appetite. If you’re thinking of visiting, it might be best to reserve a table in advance – demand for seating is high at these upscale eateries.
When you mention the name Le Gavroche to foodies, it tends to evoke a very particular sense of affection. After all, how many restaurants can claim to have not just survived over half a century, but to have continued to be ground-breaking while remaining utterly true to its roots?
Unbelievably, when it opened in 1967, it was the first French restaurant of its kind in London. This was, after all, the swinging sixties and food was not perhaps top of the menu for a city obsessed with music and fashion. But the Roux brothers Albert and Michel (senior) had a vision, and it was one that has more than stood the test of time as restaurants and culinary fads have come and gone. The original Le Gavroche was situated in Mayfair’s Lower Sloane Street, moving to the chic Upper Brook Street in 1982.
International recognition came when it received the first Michelin star in 1974 – the first restaurant in Britain to receive such an award, following that achievement by becoming the first to receive two in 1977 and finally three in 1982. For Michel Roux jr, who has run the kitchen for a remarkable 31 years, it is no longer about stars but more about the style and excellence of the cooking. You can tell much about a kitchen from those who have worked there, and Le Gavroche is pure A-lister, from Marcus Wareing and Gordon Ramsay to Pierre Koffman and Monica Galetti.
The vibe is one of luxurious elegance-meets-gentleman’s club: dark olive-green walls, generously upholstered seating, tables set with glistening silver and crisp starched white linen and carpeted floors. And the culinary experience is similarly elevated, with the excellence of suppliers and seasonality combined with a culinary finesse that marks out truly great restaurants, be it the legendary cheese soufflé on double cream or their seven-course tasting menu. But it’s not merely about tradition: today there’s also a seven-course vegetarian tasting menu, a reflection of the same creative streak the Roux brothers demonstrated when they launched the restaurant that half-century ago.
And the name? Charmingly, if misleadingly, it translates as ‘The Urchin’ and comes from a character in Les Misérables.
Pollen Street Social
Set back from the shopping mecca of Regent Street is Pollen Street where, in 2011, chef Jason Atherton opened his flagship restaurant in London. Pollen Street Social is an update on relaxed bistro-style dining, serving the most imaginative, exquisitely presented dishes. Jason had already made his mark on the food scene, having honed his skills in the kitchens of Marco Pierre White, Nico Ladenis and Gordon Ramsay. Within months, his achievement was recognised with a Michelin star. And, as the name suggests, Pollen Street Social is as much about food as a sociable activity, but conversation will surely be stilled when tasting the fish and chips, or the primmest Eton Mess, all served to perfection on contemporary pure white plates. The cheese board will tempt you to have one more course.
The mantra of Pollen Street is freshness, freshness, freshness: meals can only be as good as its ingredients and to that end, relationships with suppliers are carefully nurtured. It even tells you on the menu exactly how far each ingredient has travelled, with the Orkney scallops having come furthest, while all the lamb and beef comes from the Lake District. On offer is something for everyone, from à la carte to vegan and vegetarian tasting menus.
This is also about fine food as theatre, with guests able to sit at the stools at the chef’s counter where you might catch a glimpse of Executive Chef Dale Bainbridge or Jason Atherton himself in action. Or check out the private dining room and draw up a comfy chair to a table generous enough to fit friends, family and business associates – the best kind of conviviality. This doubles as a sommelier’s room, so perfect for wine lovers, whether new converts or aficionados.
A couple of streets away from Pollen Street Social is Heddon Street, where you’ll find Sabor. If the meaning of Le Gavroche might seem whimsical, that of Sabor is more direct, for it’s Spanish for ‘flavour’. The two founders of Sabor – chef Nieves Barragán Mohacho and operations director José Etura – share a passion for the cuisine of their homeland, and in 2018, this was recognised with a Michelin star.
Within the space, they have cleverly devised three different areas and all maintain a sunny Spanish vibe, with an exuberant majolica tiled wall forming a backsplash in the kitchen, rather than the more prosaic stainless steel. Stand at tables arranged around the bar and sample a vibrant array of tapas while sipping on a sherry from Jerez or Sanlúcar, a Galician beer or wine from one of the Spanish vineyards with which Sabor has a close relationship.
Also on the ground floor is The Counter, which offers relaxed eating, where fish plays a starring role, and an ever-varying menu depending on what’s freshest on any particular day. The dishes are often Catalonian or Basque in style – the latter paying tribute to Mohacho’s home region. Visually they are dramatic, from the inky coloured cuttlefish pappardelle with Manchego to the pale beauty of the rhubarb tartaleta. Upstairs is a different vibe again: El Asador offers a view right into the kitchen where delicacies from Galicia and Castile are prepared in the wood-fired oven or in giant copper pans brought over from Spain. Here, you can choose anything from tapas to a five-course feast menu, but dramatically the star of the show is surely the Segovian suckling pig, a milk-reared melt-in-the-mouth experience, in which the softest meat contrasts with the crunchiest crackling.