Test Driving Thirty Six by Nigel Mendham

Test Driving Thirty Six by Nigel MendhamWhy's Thirty Six by Nigel Mendham of interest?

In tandem with general manager, Debrah Dhugga, chef Nigel Mendham has brought the restaurant at much-loved five-star, Duke’s of St. James up to the standard of its attendant bar. It’s long been a favourite on account of its balanced but - if you’re not watchful - unbalancing martinis.

Where is it?

Following a couth spruce, Thirty Six now has its own entrance at 36 Little St. James Street a dapper saunter from London’s oldest wine and spirits merchant, Berry Brothers and Rudd.

Who's it suitable for?

Thirty Six has the feel of an exclusive but friendly member’s club. Walls painted in Farrow & Ball are lined with a thick dado of prints and paintings accrued over many years. Combined with well-spaced, linen padded tables, cosseting tangerine chairs and well-groomed staff, this is a dining room from which you won’t want to dart back to reality. A set for celebrations, long-lasting catch-up lunches and even proposals.

Where should I meet fellow diners for a pre-dinner drink?

Either at the restaurant’s feminine champagne lounge, serving Perrier-Jouët, or the more masculine Duke’s bar. This comfy haven is presided over by debonair Alessandro Palazzi who is rightly famed for serving unadulterated, undiluted martinis at table. His recent work includes the dense Fleming 89, crafted in partnership with perfumer Floris whose “89” Eau de Cologne fragranced author Ian Fleming’s best-known protagonist, James Bond.

What would you recommend ordering?

Quail (terrine forestiere, braised leg, quail jus), roast turbot (rib of beef, horseradish and native oyster) or lamb (sticky ribs, braised shank, caramelised shallot). Three course lunch: £36; dinner: £60; tasting menu: £95.

Is bread included?

Mini loaves, scented like brioche and bouncy to the touch come with custard coloured butter. These are warm and sliced to resemble outsized woodlice in appearance.

What's the cheapest wine I could get away with?

Bottles from £24; glasses of house red, white and rosé £6 each. A copita of Fino is £6.50; a flute of Perrier- Jouët is £13.50.

Anything for vegetarians?

Try the clafoutis with golden cross apple woven into Mendham’s take on a Waldorf salad.

Overall thoughts?

Mendham’s carefully re-calibrated kitchen now means the dining room warrants similar acclaim to the hotel's legendary bar.

Find out more about Thirty Six

Prices are correct at time of writing. Hot Dinners was invited to eat at THIRTY SIX by Nigel Mendham