Test Driving Arlington - Le Caprice is back in a new guise and hotter than ever

roomThe dining room at Arlington

What can you tell us about Arlington?

Put simply, it's Le Caprice 2.0 in all but name (we're not supposed to call it that, but it most certainly is). It's in the same location, has kept many elements of the original design (although updated them with a shiny new look), signature dishes from the original appear on the menu and, most importantly, it's run by the two men who were there at the heyday of the original, Jeremy King and GM Jesus Adorno. 

And what's special about them?

Arlington heralds the return of Jeremy King to the London restaurant scene. Previously he's been best known for being half of Corbin & King (who launched The Wolseley, Brasserie Zedel and more) and is regarded as one of the most influential restaurateurs in London. After a somewhat acrimonious departure from his previous company, King has been away from the restaurant business for nearly two years. But 2024 is his big comeback and Arlington is the first of three new restaurants that he is opening. 

As for Restaurant Director Jesus Adorno, when Le Caprice closed he had been there for 38 years,  just short of a 40-year milestone. Seen by many as a crucial element of what made Le Caprice so special, getting him back to cross that 40-year point was a big coup and judging by the old clientele who greeted him like an old friend, he's a vital piece of what makes Arlington such a big opening.

roomFirst task - order one of their excellent martinis. This is the Coastal Martini (No.3 London dry gin, Vault coastal vermouth, grapefruit zest, £15)

And why is re-opening Le Caprice opening Arlington such a big deal?

When the original restaurant opened and for quite some time after, Le Caprice was the hottest of hot restaurants in London. All the stars would go there, best evidenced by an iconic photo of Princess Diana leaving the restaurant. 

And it seems Arlington has already managed to achieve its ambition of being the place to be seen in, even before it opened. Plenty of stars have been seen dining there but to our mind, the pinnacle of that is getting Tom Holland and Zendaya in the doors, who we've been told ate there during the testing phase. So yes, Arlington has got the star power back and then some.  

roomLook for the blue neon. 

Where is it?

If you've been to Le Caprice, you already know. But not, you'll find it on Arlington Street (of course), which runs down the left side of The Ritz. Assuming you're not getting dropped off by your own driver, as some of the diners certainly were when we visited, it's about a five-minute walk down there, just look for the blue awning.  

And if we wanted to go for a drink before? 

Our top suggestion would be another hot new opening, The Dover. Dover Street is opposite Arlington Street on the other side of Piccadilly and has what we think is one of the best new bars in Mayfair. While you might have trouble getting a dinner table there, there's a good chance of a space in the bar for one of their excellent martinis.  

roomThe bar counter at Arlington in full flow

Is there a bar at Arlington?

Yes and no. There is a bar counter as you can see above, and while you could probably pitch up there for a martini if there was space (good luck with that) it's mainly reserved for diners. That said, the first thing to do when taking your seat at Arlington should be to order a cocktails and ideally a martini. The martinis we had, a classic and their "coastal" version, were among the very best we've had recently - just perfectly done. 

What's the layout and where should we sit? 

If you've been to, or seen photos of, Le Caprice it will all look very familiar. The layout is obviously the same, there are classic photos from David Bailey on the wall (albeit a new selection curated for this opening) and even the chairs look the same. But despite keeping all those characteristics, it's still all sparkling new, like we'd imagine Le Caprice opening for the very first time in 2024. The restaurant manages to tread that very fine line of newness and nostalgia, which is not an easy thing to achieve. 

From a seating point of view, the only choice you have is at the bar or at a table. And if it's at a table, you will just have to take what they give you (unless you're of a certain star calibre). While we can't confirm, judging by where they were putting people that we recognised, we'd say the top-tier tables were the ones closest to the bar. But even if you're slightly hidden away at the back we wouldn't complain, frankly.   

So - onto the food. 

We have to be honest at this point - food is going to be secondary for many people who come to Le Caprice. Glamour, top-tier service and all-round class are going to be top of the bill. But that doesn't mean that it's anything to be sniffed at - and there were some real blinders on our visit (which was on an early soft-launch day). It's also worth noting that the prices are surprisingly decent for this part of town.

Billed simply as serving modern European classics, it's a menu that features both Le Caprice classics and some new dishes, so there's a chance to revisit old favourites if you fancy or try something completely different. 

Here's a taste of what's on the menu. 

roomBang Bang Chicken (£14.25) - a classic from the original restaurant this was a discovery of King's original partner Chris Corbin who came across it at a restaurant in Chinatown and nabbed it for the menu here.

roomSeared Scallops, Chilli & Garlic Butter (£22)

roomSalmon Fish Cake, Sorrel Sauce (£22.50) - another classic from the original and it's easy to see why, that sorrel sauce is divine.

roomLobster Thermidor Soufflé, Green Salad (£34) - a new addition and one that could well become a new classic.

Anything else to highlight?

You'll definitely want to order some bubble & squeak on the side (£5.75) and they do an excellent cauliflower cheese too. It's not a place that's particularly good for vegetarians either, with only five dishes that fall into that category on the current menu. Brunch will be coming soon, so that's one to watch out for (particularly if you're struggling to get a booking). 

And what about dessert?

There are a couple of classics on here too, including the Mousse aux Deux Chocolats (which Nigella had when she visited) and the showstopper below. 

roomScandinavian Iced Berries, White Chocolate Sauce (£11)

We'd never tried this particular dessert and will admit to wondering what all the fuss was about, but now we're fully converted to its greatness. It may not look like much, but that bowl of berries, which has the white chocolate sauce poured over at your table, is not to be missed if you haven't tried it before. 

roomTreacle Tart, Cornish Clotted Cream (£10.75)

What about drink?

Other than the aforementioned cocktails, the wine list starts at a reasonable, for this part of town, £36 (Sicilian, Grillo Bianco or Nerello Mascalese) and there's a good selection under £60. If you're looking to impress, other than having managed to secure a table reservation, that'll be the Château Margaux, 1er Grand Cru Classé, 2004 for £795.

So how difficult is it to get a table?

It's not easy at all, unless you're after a bit of late-night dining as lots of tables are free after about 10pm. So if you fancy trying it out with a late-night snack with a chance at spotting some celebs, that's an option. Bookings are open quite far ahead though, so if you want to plan about two months in advance, late May and June (at the time of writing) are looking a little more available. And keep an eye out for the announcement of brunch, as that will be another opportunity to grab a table. 

Overall thoughts 

We expected Jeremy King's Arlington to be a big hit when it opened, but this has probably exceeded even our expectations. It's unquestionably taken the mantle of hottest restaurant in London, and we can see it keeping that title for a while. Given the look of the place, the flawless service and just the sense of class throughout, it's not hard to see why. Jeremy King was much missed from the London restaurant scene and it's very good to have him back. We're now even more eager to see what he's up to next.  


More about Arlington

Where is it?  20 Arlington St, St. James's, London SW1A 1RJ

How to book: Book online

Find out moreVisit the website and follow on Instagram @arlingtonrestaurant.


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