Tucked down the least prepossessing road from Sloane Square lies 1771, a delightful neighbourhood restaurant on Holbein St that deserves to be in the national spotlight. It is from the unassuming yet exceptional chef Mark Jarvis, who has spent the last 17 years showing how he can do fine dining (Le Manoir), Michelin (Texture), posh pubs (The Thatch), hotels (The Bingham) and critics' favourites (Anglo). The restaurant was originally called LIV Belgravia, launched at the tail end of 2019, briefly becoming a firm favourite before Covid-19 clobbered the entire capital. It recently reopened as 1771: the concept is art gallery interiors, pristine tablecloths, hipster wines, attentive but affable service and well crafted potent plates of undisputed deliciousness. And mushrooms - so many, many mushrooms.
Greeted by terrific restaurant manager Michael Lumsdown offering a glass of honey coloured Gallimard Pére et Fils Blanc de Noirs, the evening progressed effortlessly. What impressed was not just the quality but the innovation: the tasting menu starts with gravlax topped with cordyceps, ruby venison tartare nestling in deep umami custard and a delicate parcel of brown crab topped with a translucent slice of kombucha-infused apple. The fungi-free “Cauliflower Mushroom” (actually fermented cauliflower enlivened with rooty, shoot-y gingery galangal oil) was simply sensational - the sort of dish that makes you rethink your views on foraging. Every detail is spot on - the house focaccia with whey butter is phenomenal, turbot in miso beurre blanc tender and terrific, the caramel tart with parsnip ice cream patterned like the path of a skipping stone. The clematis-coloured koji beef with a quenelle of celeriac and a heap of charred cabbage narrowly edges the sake-infused venison with pumpkin. It is dish after dish of surprise and delight.
Wines are selected and served by Nadia Forsat, a sommelier who guides you gracefully through the extensive list - an orange wine from Spain perhaps, or Shrocke & Sohne 'Ried Kulm’ Blaufränkisch, a light Austrian red. Brannland Iscider Ember is a revelation: the platonic ideal of cider, like the first frigid sip of Magners over ice, with the restotative effect of gluhwein after a days skiing. 1771 could honestly be the perfect tonic for anyone looking to dip their toe back into the capital’s restaurant scene. Only criticism? Not quite busy enough. This will change very, very quickly.