I remember the Berkeley in the eighties as a sort of Savoy Grill where the great and the good gathered. The food was reliable, the service good and the comfort level high. It epitomised top quality hotel dining. Since that time the restaurant has had various names, cuisines and identities but it now houses Marcus, the flagship two Michelin star restaurant of celebrity chef Marcus Wareing. Generally I veer away away from such establishments if only for their costliness but my 2 previous experiences at the Gilbert Scott Restaurant of Marcus Wareing were more than satisfactory.
It was my turn to give lunch to an old friend of mine who, starting with one bureau de change, went onto or to build up an enormous global financial services business, the largest outside the banks. When it is his turn, he invites me to a high end eaterie. So I do my best to match. One of the few rules of our six monthly luncheon club is we never return to a place twice.
I was slightly disconcerted that due to extensive hotel building works I had some difficulty in finding the restaurant. When I did I was impressed that it was a wide area and we were shown to a table for two that was spacious and comfortable. My guest never drinks alcohol at lunchtime – just as well as at Gilbert Scott I found it hard to find much under £100 – and I was happy after dry January to drink in moderation.
Married to an investment banker I should know more than I do about high finance so I always find in interesting to discuss whether the current economic crisis in the far east might lead to a banking crisis. My friend thought not though I was disturbed to learn that anyone who loses more than £75,000 of their deposits in a bank is an unsecured creditor. I bet if you owed them more than £75,000 they would insist on security!!!
Restaurants like these work on flavours and ingredients. I ordered veal sweetbreads, artichoke and Lautrec garlic. I have no idea what a Lautrec garlic is, could it be in some way related to the French midget painter? Anyway the concoction was delicious. After wards I ordered for mains venison. I am a fan of venison and Mummy’s dictum of ordering in restaurants something hard to get at the butchers. This too was delicious, melt in the mouth, flavoursome. The portions might have been bigger but it left space for a lemon and iced tea meringue. As these restaurants also usually serve an amuse gueule and petits fours., the final after taste is satisfaction but not feeling over full. The service was exemplary, attentive, efficient and helpful.
It was less than half full. This was probably due to it being mid February. As I people-gazed I could not work out the clientele. There were no power businessmen in elegant suits, a few couples. Unlike some celebrity chefs who give their name to a plethora of restaurants – no names, no kitchen portering!! – Wareing confines himself to three and you feel he is more hands on. Michelin stars are not given out lightly and once won the fight is on to maintain them.
The bill with one sparkling water was just over £200 which might also explain the lack of diners. I did get a leaving present of a small gateau in a parcel. Later on the train home when I opened up my black Hermes Jane Birkin handbag that I always bring out on such occasions the cake had broken free and I found creamy goo all over my iPad, Kindle, Cosmopolitan and spare pair of Victoria Secret knickers !!! Might take some explaining!!!