Berners Tavern Review

Please note, this review was originally published on Blue Tomato Reviews in July 2013

While most people get star struck by pop stars – I find myself doing the same with chefs…I LOVE Jason Atherton, I met him once at the Taste of London; he called me ‘ma’am’ and my legs turned to jelly (after having my photo with him obviously). After watching the Michelin starred chef on the likes of The Great British Menu and MasterChef it’s easy to see his passion for food and it’s no wonder he is one of GQ’s Men of the Year 2013 having opened three London restaurants this year.

When I found out that I was to review his latest opening, I literally shrieked with excitement and told every person I met for the next two weeks. Now you may think I am being slightly melodramatic, but believe me, when you see the opulent brasserie located in the five star London Edition Hotel, you will know what I’m talking about.

This little gastronomic gem offers a contemporary British menu that is simple yet elegant and features the very best produce that the British Isles has to offer.

It’s hard not to let your jaw drop when you enter the most un-tavernly like tavern; instead the restaurant looks like a room in a stately home boasting sky high ceilings, chandeliers, intricate plaster work splashed on the ceiling and walls slathered with the most beautiful framed artwork, complete with a stunning lobby bar – this is truly one of the most visually stunning dining rooms I have ever seen. Despite, this opulent exterior, there was still a sense of informality about the place, which I loved.

It is definitely not a case however or style over substance, the food and the service are on par with the décor. The menu offers seafood platters, steak platters, burgers as well as some classic dishes that showcase Atherton’s individual style and take it to the next level – clever, well executed and packed with flavour.

To start my partner and I ordered the delectable the Orkney scallop ceviche (£12.50) – a beautiful plate with plump raw scallops that dissolved on the tongue, dollops of avocado cream and a sharp lime ice to cut through it all. We also shared crispy Romney marsh lamb breast served with a saucepan of seriously moreish butternut and pecorino fregola topped with lamb marrow crumble (£8) – we literally wanted to lick the pan and mopped up every last morsel with our bread! These were by far the highlights of the night!

For mains, we opted for the Dingley Dell pork chop, lemon and hazelnut carrots, lemon puree and crispy native oyster (£26): a generously sized chop served with the sharp lemon puree providing the perfect accompaniment to the sweet hazelnuts and vegetables.  My dining partner ordered the pan-braised halibut with a saucepan of squid ink risotto, garlic squid and broccoli (£24) which was to die for – perfectly cooked fish and crunchy garlic squid; she even managed to somehow not stain her lips and teeth black from the risotto!

Our waiter recommended the warm almond brioche, pear compote, ginger sorbet (£7) for dessert: an interesting looking jar filled with layers of almond brioche, pear compote, cubes of fruit and biscuit, ginger ice cream which was topped up with homemade custard and the Chocolate éclair, Devon vanilla cream and chocolate sorbet with crunch cocoa nibs (£7.50) both finished off the meal perfectly; leaving us full but satisfied.

It’s hard to find fault in what seems to be a perfect place, and the only thing I can say is that although the restaurant lighting is gentle and subdued, it’s almost a little too dark leaving you just about able to read the menu – we did notice an old couple near us using their phones as torches to read the menu!

Inspired by all day dining, the Berners Tavern offers breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and supper with affordable lunch specials that won’t break the bank such as Friday Fish Lunch (battered cod, mushy peas and chips for £17.50) and Sunday Roast Lunch (roast rib of beef with all the trimmings for £18.50). The waiting staff are all friendly and attentive, we had such great service, at times not realising they had topped up our glasses.  A truly glamorous experience, this is a place to take someone you want to impress.