What can you tell us about Berners Tavern?
Jason Atherton has already opened two other restaurants in London this year (Little Social and Social Eating House) but Berners Tavern is definitely the grandest of the three. It's the restaurant for the seriously chic five star London EDITION Hotel and as such is open from breakfast through to dinner, with afternoon tea thrown in as well. In the kitchen is Phil Carmichael who's worked with Atherton for a decade.
So it's an all-day hotel restaurant then?
At first glance the menu here looks to be relatively straightforward - offering light bites and sandwiches as well as a steak section and a range of starters, main courses and dishes designed for sharing. But the food is anything but pedestrian with plenty of Atherton flourishes and twists. Add to that, the Marriott-trained staff who throughout the hotel and restaurant were super-helpful and very efficient and you're on to a winner.
We've been hearing a lot about the room. Impressive?
It's a ballroom-sized space with its own street entrance on Berners Street. The huge space has been brilliantly designed to give it the requisite jaw-dropping factor when you enter with the walls covered with a selection of modern and old paintings. There are a lot of people who are going to want to impress business contacts or dates by taking them here.
Where should I meet up with friends beforehand?
We tried two drinks from the short cocktail list at the Berners Tavern bar, both of which were strong and well made. There's also another hidden hotel bar towards the rear of the building serving up a range of homemade punches as well as a lobby bar.
Outside of the hotel, nearby Goodge Street has both the London Cocktail Club and The Reverend J W Simpson, both of which are worth a go too.
Where should I sit?
The prized seats here are definitely going to be the banquettes arranged down the centre of the room - but you'll probably need to be a table of at least three or four to snag these ones, and for the first few weeks it'll probably help if you're related to the chef or someone very well known. These are great tables.
What should I eat?
We kicked off our dinner with an oyster apiece which came with an amazing Vietnamese sauce which Atherton designed for his Singaporean restaurant Esquina. If we'd known how good that sauce was we'd have ordered more, so learn from our mistake. Our waiter guided us to two great starters - the Orkney scallop ceviche (£12.50) - a pretty plate with plump sweet raw scallops, dollops of avocado cream and a lime ice to cut through it all and crispy Romney marsh lamb breast which was served with a saucepan of seriously moreish butternut and pecorino fregola topped with lamb marrow crumble (£8) - really the perfect comfort food dish.
For mains, the cod with teeny sweet clams in a fennel and cider sauce was very well executed, although the billed Arbequina olive oil mash wasn't quite as unctuous as we'd been expecting. But @hotdinners2 picked the best dish with his Creedy carver duck with thick slices of caramelised apples and a lovely pickled plum puree to balance the richness of the meat.
Desserts were just as good - the goat's cheese sorbet with baby meringues and blackcurrant compote (£7) was odd and fun but also delicious, while the sweet potato brulee which sounds plain wrong (£7) had us licking the plate.
Berners Tavern may be described as an all-day restaurant, but it's like no all day diner you've ever seen. The jaw-dropping room will be hard to beat as the most beautiful to open in London this year. And Atherton's legendary attention to detail elevates the menu here far above any usual hotel fare.
Berners Tavern is at 10 Berners Street, London W1T 3NP. To book, go to their website. Berners Tavern main image by Nikolas Koenig
Prices were correct at time of writing. Hot Dinners was invited to try Berners Tavern