The Mandarin Oriental
66 Knightsbridge London
Tel: 020 7201 3723
Date of Last Visit: Wednesday, June 11
The Damage: £275, if you must know!
The Background: Douglas won my Guest Blogger contest back in April with his review of Galvin at Windows. The prize was dinner with me, so the date has finally arrived and I’ve chosen Foliage partially influenced by its Michelin-ness and its great review over on Cheese & Biscuits.
Douglas is already in the bar when I arrive, sipping pink Moet and holding a present for me! It’s a bottle of txacoli, my new favorite wine. The evening is off to a good start–I like a man who can quaff pink champagne–and we haven’t even eaten anything. Except the bar snacks, which aren’t as nice as those at Claridge’s.
The Entrance: I can’t forget I’m in a hotel restaurant. I have a fondness for hotel bars, but there’s just something about the decor of hotel restaurants…all that beige. We are shown our table–by a window–with what would be a great view of the park at sunset if not for all the construction out back. The staff are sweet about the awful mess and apologise in a funny and good way and we settle in to watch the sun set over the work-in-progress.
The Food: I could walk you through everything we ate, word-by-word. But that would assume I had taken notes, which I didn’t. (Douglas wisely asked for a copy of the menu before we left.) But I DID take photos of everything for a change, so perhaps a few photos will speak a thousand words. Douglas and I made quite the pair as we whipped out our blogging equipment as each course arrived, I with my Canon, he with his LG camera phone (5 Megapixels, no less!) It reminded me that I should really organize a London food bloggers meet-up at some point. Dining out with like-minded souls is a good thing. What the other diners thought of us with all our snapping, we don’t know. I’ll come back to the food in a sec, but let me talk about the service first.
The Service: When we were first shown to our table, they seemed to kinda forget about us. No menus, no “Hello,” no nothing. And it’s not like we could enjoy the view while we were sitting there. Very odd. They recovered splendidly after this, but it was a slip up, for sure.
Our main waiter was a young Spaniard, and he was very enthusiastic in his service. Part of me wanted to ask how old he was because he just looked so youthful and fresh-skinned. Well done to him, once he got us started. The sommelier (German? Austrian?) seemed quite personable, which I liked. No stuffiness. Poor guy though…I didn’t really see any table take advantage of his services all night, and with a half-full room….I would have been bored to tears.
Back to The Food: I caught photos of everything except the little snacks that arrived once the staff remembered that we were sitting there. Hummous with lime and twisty little bread sticks. I am forgetting the other dip, but hopefully Douglas can shed some light.
Now, off we go…
Firstly, a lovely chilled melon soup. Douglas displayed his great manners by eating his soup away from him, which is very very proper. (You should also pass the salt and pepper together, you know.)
Then a trio of scallops…I wanted to lick the plate clean.
And two preparations of foie gras, one lovelier than the other…and I must apologize but the photos are going to get darker and darker in a bit. The sun was setting…
The ubiquitous sea bass. This was probably my least favorte dish. Hmmm.
A bit of steak done to a perfect medium rare…lovely…
The first dessert…and I completely forget what this tasted like so obviously forgettable…
But this was very American (which is a compliment, skeptics!) in its peanut-butteriness and chocolate…
And then some olive oil chocolates with balsamic vinegar, which I thought were really interesting and different and delicious.
And then, four hours later, it was all over.
The Verdict: I would love to eat this way every night. But that would mean running a marathon on a weekly basis, which ain’t gonna happen. But yes, a nice treat.