Marcus Wareing @ The Berkeley, London

I’ve heard so much about London’s finest dining, glitz and glamour. Even though I tried to book the Fat Duck, 8 weeks in advance to my London trip, a voice on the other end of the phone said ” We take reservations up to 2 months in advance, but we are fully booked for the next two months, thank you for calling, goodbye!”  Oh well, it was worth the try. Disappointed and let down, I called a friend to asked her were else I should try and she being the ultimate foodie,  told me “Marcus Wareing”. So, here I am at the Berkeley and really glad I took her advice too because the food and service turned out to be outstanding.

If you are walking down from Harrods on Knightsbridge, The Berkeley is the second turning on your right. It stands on the corner of Wilton Place and Knightsbridge, overlooking Hyde Park and just minutes from Harvey Nic’s and Harrods. Anyway, the fastest way here is from either the Knightsbridge or Hyde Park Corner tube stations on the Piccadilly line.

This is my experience at this exclusive Knightsbridge restaurant and the first solo venture of star chef Marcus Wareing. Before this restaurant, Marcus Wareing and Gordon Ramsay were partners at Pétrus restaurant, 33 St James’s, which then moved to the Berkeley. Then came the surprising news that the two great Chefs were going separate ways. The Ramsay group kept the Pétrus name, the wine cellar (!) etc, but the staff stayed on with Marcus and the place became Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley. Apparently, the minute the split occurred, the Ramsay group had called everyone with reservations to announce that the restaurant had closed , so much so that the place was deserted in their first week running. (Who said that splits have to be amicable). However, I assume that the teething problems are over because when I got there, the place was packed to the rafters.

We got in for a rather late lunch. The menu starts at £90 for the endless tasting menu, £75 for the à la carte and £30 for the set lunch. Before the lunch even begins, the waiter comes around with a large trolley of  champagne to get you in the groove (it became a real habit for me, this guzzling bubble before a meal). After that, I selected the chateau margaux 1995 to go with my mains. The beauty about this place is that they serve excellent wines by the glass – you don’t need to drink horrible house wine, if you are in non-drinking company and do not wish to get drunk on a bottle. Not only that, this allows you to sample the whole spectrum of bubbly or wines by the glass. Swell!

Talk about an extensive tasting menu, the amuse bouche of sweet corn and pumpkin with a liquorice foam served in a cute, shot glass..  pan-fried foie gras with glazed black figs, lapsang tea and hazelnuts, vitello tonnato  (some form of finely sliced poached veal, air-dried tuna, smoked anchovy, capers, white onion and nutmeg mousse).. main course of salt -marsh lamb (with shallots, fennel, confit tomatoes, saffron and lavender), roast pork belly,  lovely briny red mullet or cumbrian rosé veal (with dorset snails, sea purslane, sweet garlic emulsion and alsace bacon) ..  oh, the mind boggles.

It is really makes sense that the waiter selects a fish starter for you, if you are having meat for your mains, and vice versa. What’s even more grand is that the waiter who emerges from the kitchen with the serving tray, does not serve the table. Another waiter does that. The server’s job is to appear with the food, hold the tray, and then disappear once the food has been served.  The staff were handsome, knowledgeable and with manners boarding on saintly. This is cuisine as haute as you can get in London!

There are only limited shots of what we ate for obvious reasons. Even though the waiters and staff were really friendly and tolerant, I did not want to out-snap my welcome and get thrown out of the Berkeley. I had to maintain some form of composure and not go crazy over the food served, even though I really wanted to give in to my snap-frenzy. By the way, his new and  second cookbook, Nutmeg & Custard, is listed on the menu as an item, for sale. Great for those who like to experiment in the kitchen.

The amuse bouche

Pan-fried foie gras log with truffles

Hake – an Irish salt water fish starter

Pork belly

Red mullet

Egg custard tart and ice-cream (apparently the cold custard is MW’s mum’s recipe – eggy and delicious)

The food was exquisite. I am no food critic, so all I can say is that we really got value for money (top dollar!) At the conclusion of the meal, we sit around and enjoy the bonbon trolley over a coffee.. lunch that started at around 1.30pm, is over at 4pm. We also have some bonbon’s to go because they taste so nice. What a life!

This place deserved every bit of that  Two Michelin Star it got. I would love to dine here again and again.

Michelin star guide
One Michelin star: A very good restaurant or pub in its category
The star indicates a good place to stop on your journey. But beware of comparing the star given to an expensive de luxe establishment with that of a simple restaurant where you can appreciate fine cooking at a reasonable price.
Two Michelin star: Excellent cooking, worth a detour
Specialities and wines of first class quality. This will be reflected in the price
Three Michelin star: Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey
One always eats here extremely well, sometimes superbly. Fine wines, faultless service, elegant surroundings. One will pay accordingly..!

The end.

For reservations, address and directions, click here

The Berkeley

Comments

  1. Lucky gal… *drools at photos*

  2. faints..how i would like such a meal..hahah this is no place for a dslr i suppose..

  3. Ciki, I’m so jealous! The Champagne glass looks so fine and the experience was just great. It’s like seventh heaven reading this man, and I wished I can dine there too one day! hehehe…

  4. Wow…. you really have a wonderful time in UK with wonderful food :)

  5. mmmm it’s certainly “what’s a life” in London! yumz all over ;-)

  6. Thank you very much for this! Am leaving for London tonight and while I already have my usual list of restaurants to visit, will try to plan a meal here too!

  7. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Michelin star restaurant. The food looks great and I like the concept of an endless tasting menu. :)

  8. ooh, i still havent managed to visit any michelin-starred restaurant, since there are none in our country… the closest i’ve come is eating stuff cooked by visiting michelin chefs, or even sadder, chefs who have trained under michelin chefs! :D

  9. Woohooo! The food sounds amazing! I will definitely check it out when I’m in London next! That log looks crazeee good!

  10. LOndon?!!!.. Wish to have a chance there soon… you photo make me drool la…

  11. What a meal! From the sound of it, this was worth every penny hor? =)

  12. yum luv

  13. u had a blast in London didnt u??? sporting any couture soon?? ;)

  14. Sounds fabulous! That foie gras log looks practically FESTIVE! Bring on the Bons bons!

  15. hi,
    i actually disagree that MW deserves its 2 stars – for me it is more of a 1.5 star place. The room is great, the service is great but the food is well… a bit confused – too many elements on the plate. MW is trying too hard to get a 3* and forgetting the focus of the dish. Technically, I cannot fault the cooking of each dish, but just the overall dish on the whole. At a 2* level, at least Le Gavroche and the Square are a better level (at the same price). Not to mention the markups of vino at the Square is less aggressive.

    too bad you didn’t get in touch with me otherwise i could have gotten you last minute tables at some of the restaurants.

    g

  16. J, nipples:
    I thot meens planning our trip to El Bulli? wot happened to that ?! :P

    Eiling:
    Yar, since i’ve never been to a one mich, let alone two, i was pretty happy to just sit there and enjoy the experience ;)

    selba, babe kl:
    yar well, it’s good and also scary – London’s a great place if you have money .. when I was a student, twas no fun eating my own cooked food from saveway :P Didn’t party, nor eat out , nor anything much. Church on Sundays.. voluntary work on saturdays. Very bland life (kinda like my cooking!)

    Petrina:
    glad to be of service!

    HB, Sean:
    same here;) .. addicted now.. but where to get in KL!

    hungry rabbit:
    can u take me with u .. again ..

    PTP, Bbabe:
    I am no food critic, so I thought it was worth every penny. It’s really hard to tell but the true gourmet knows la.. i’ve read some british reviews on the place.. they really know their stuff:)

    Nigel, TNG, Min:
    LOL, it was a blast. I got 9 more posts to go (can tahan or not?!) mwuahaha

  17. As subtle as it gets, thats Londun in. Style & class we like , & mr bond. perfect.

  18. gen.u.ine.ness :
    Yes! my hubby ar.. he told me about your comment only after I had returned (I didn’t check posts before I left).. plus he did not sms me your contact! It crossed my mind to call you – would have loved to see your fav restaurants.. anyway, next time:)
    Regarding, Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, it’s funny, i just read a UK review on your point , that MW is just trying too hard and that if he relaxed a little he would reach his full potential. To me, however, it was a real treat. Having never dined at a 2 M star, i thoroughly enjoyed my meal + the service. One day I hope to dine at all your fav restaurants too:)

  19. perfect place for you and I. You can drink the best wine in a glass while I just have my glass of still water. Yay

  20. Just in case you are interested, of all the 2* restaurants in London here is how I would rank them for future use:

    1) the Square – consistently good, revisiting tomorrow!
    2) Le Gavroche – close 2nd, my recent visit was just a fraction less impressive than the first time. Best service in the UK (makes the service in all restaurants seem schoolboy)
    —————
    3) Alain Ducasse @ the Dorchester (first visit was extremely good, 2nd visit less so)
    4) Pied-a-Terre – first visit was abysmal, 2nd visit much improved. Basically you go for their signature foie gras dish but otherwise its a 1.5 star restaurant.
    5) Marcus Wareing – overpriced and overcomplicated. Main prob is that the ingredients used here, while good, aren’t outstanding. (e.g. pork they use comes fm Rhug farm which is what I get fm the market)
    6) Hibiscus – enjoyable food, but the tendency to overcomplicate. (e.g. desserts of Cep (porcini) mushroom tart, sea buckthorn parfait!!!)
    7) Capital – very slip slop meal, the head chef Eric Chavot has left now too…Extortionate markups on wine.
    8) L’Atelier Joel Robuchon – barely deserves a star, let alone 2. To sum up: ‘Fine Dining McDonalds’

    Noteworthy 1* mentions:
    Greenhouse – ridiculous wine list (2,000 bins, all the big hitters in multiple vintages), excellent cheese board
    Roussillon – basically the reason to go here is the excellent wine list (loads of obscure south france bins) and the delectable Louis XV Chocolate Croustillant

    Note: I didn’t mention Gordon Ramsay. The —– is where i would put his 3* flagship restaurant. Michelin doing lip service to celebrity chefs etc.

  21. btw out of curiosity – how much did you pay for the ’95 Margaux?

  22. “(It became a real habit for me, this bubbly business pre-wine, pre-meal.. )”
    “After that, I selected the chateau margaux 1995 to go with my mains.”
    [striking ciki off my “friends” list] CIS, i am greener than the grinch.
    CEKIK CEKIK CIKI….
    did you have to pay for any of this?

  23. BSG:
    i like 007 too :P

    A lilfatmonkey:
    LOL, yea cheap date ;)

    gen.u.ine.ness:
    noted;)

    fbb:
    hi ahpa! of course – I paid for the whole lot!

  24. gen.u.ine.ness:
    Hi! I checked back.. around BP30.00 .. fair price?

  25. £30 for a BOTTLE of margaux 1995? That absolutely can’t be right because a bottle of Margaux 1995 retails for around £200.

  26. a glass my dear :P

  27. envious. here moon, sun pun tarak. and you got yourself over to a 2 stars restaurant.

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