We were looking for a romantic restaurant to celebrate the start of summer. Myself and the Opera Singer are about to hang up our London shoes for a reset in Portugal. It required an elegant, low-key celebration; part of that was our desire to eat at a beautiful restaurant where one does not have to think about a single thing. Enter the joyful ease of an elevated fine-dining set menu.
Restaurant of the Week: Ormer, Mayfair
31st July 2023
Our restaurant of the week is Ormer, Mayfair, a gleaming yet discreet art deco gem tucked away in Flemings Hotel on Half Moon Street.
As a counter to sharing plates, which demand multiple decisions that will not please all parties, set menus are enjoying a rise in popularity for the simple fact that diners can enjoy a carefully considered experiential array of courses created by a talented chef, with consideration to the best available ingredients and augmented by a great sommelier in charge of the best pairings. No FOMO. No choice fatigue.
We chose Ormer, lead by chef Sofian Msetfi, to have this experience. Hidden away in the gleaming art deco basement of Flemings Hotel, in the heart of Mayfair, Ormer has been awarded four AA Rosettes and is listed as one of London’s top five fine dining restaurants by Hardens.
After heading through the limo-gridlocked chaos of Berkeley Square, descending into Ormer was a balm in itself. At this point the charming, well-informed staff took over our evening, in the best possible way. All we had to do was select the menu, sit back, and let it unfold.
We chose the six-course Market Menu, (£79); Ormer also offers Pescatarian, Vegetarian and Vegan menus, the latter requiring 48 hours’ notice. The Opera Singer selected the Signature wine pairings, £79; Prestige parings are £135.
Delicious amuse-bouche to start were well balanced – they included a crisp tart with potato and smoked haddock, a steamed bun with crème fraiche and caviar, and a duck liver parfait enlivened with a twist of gold leaf.
This was followed by a summer salad of Sicilian tomato, English peas and broad beans drenched with a consommé with just the right amount of acidity to cleanse the palate, ready for the following courses.
We had pre-briefed Sergei, the sommelier, to my alcohol-free status and he sourced, not an alcohol-free wine as expected, but a delectably light tea from the Copenhagen Sparkling Tea company, and as cool, crisp and refreshing as a white wine. All too often non-alcoholic options can leave non-drinkers feeling like the ten year old palmed off with a sugary soft drink, not at Ormer.
The Opera Singer was served with a zingy, bio-dynamic Julia Bernet Corpinnat Cava, and the inspirational pairings continued with each course. Special mention to the bread and butter, neither of us are shy about our love of fine bread and butter, and seriously, their Barley Brioche was pillow soft, with a fine crisp shell and once slathered with their cultured organic butter, it was pure heaven.
A warm Ibérico ham jelly with a dusting of parmesan, apple and nasturtium and topped with crunchy sprinkles of the ham was a delight of texture and temperature, accompanied by the sherry notes of the 2021 Fino Desacas, Bodegas Callejuela, the effect was utterly transportive. Cured Cornish mackerel arrived drenched in an umami consommé featuring kombu and spiced nage; subtle, sensory deliciousness.
Wasabi, lime and cucumber were unexpected partners to the rack of lamb, served pink. The citrus cut through the richness of the meat, while the wasabi lifted each mouthful; all too soon it was gone. Another boon of this dining experience – the delicately balanced arc of the menu makes it a gastronomic journey – you feel indulged without over-indulgence. The joy of having just enough cannot be overestimated.
To finish we enjoyed a caramelia and malt gateaux with honey vinegar and Madagascan vanilla ice-cream, paired with a 2018 Tokaji Édes Szamorodni 1413.
If you’re seeking an elegant and romantic London dining experience, which is close to, but feels so far from the madding Mayfair crowd, and which offers an evening of exemplary service and delicious food free of any decision making, choose Ormer.