Thursday, June 16, 2016

Bellamy's - London

The area around Berkley Square in Mayfair London has several quality restaurants. The newly opened Sexy Fish with its Pan Asian, carbohydrate lite food for the swish set and the ladies who lunch, Benaras for the rich homesick Indians who have offices and homes in Mayfair and Novikov for the Russians are just a few examples. Two out of the Holy Triumvirate of restaurants that every Desi visits, – Nobu and Hakkasan – are also at Berkley square while the third, Royal China, is not.

In a quiet lane off Berkley Square are three excellent restaurants. The extraordinary Steak & Pie place Guinea Grill, the 2 stars in Michelin Kaiseki restaurant – Umu; and the utterly delightful Bellamy’s. Bellamy’s was where we were to dine.

A bit of history. For what it’s worth, the Tattler magazine in 2014 designated Bellamy’s as being “The Most Civilised Restaurant”. Now is that not charming and something you would want in restaurant? And there is more. Some 10 years ago, to celebrate the 80th birthday of her closest friend Lady Prudence Penn, Queen Elizabeth attended a private dinner at Bellamy’s. What is all the more enchanting is that in May 2016, to celebrate Lady Penn’s 90th birthday, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Princess Anne and others from the Royal family had a private dinner at Bellamy’s. This is unusual as the Queen does not dine in restaurants.  

The restaurant itself is helmed by alumni from Annabel’s – the legendary London nightclub. The food is partly French, partly English with a strong emphasis on fish. The menu has several old style, old fashioned dishes and in the bar at lunch you can order sandwiches. In addition there is a very good fixed meal changing every week at a very economical £ 21.50 for two courses.

As we walked in we saw an older lot of patrons, all decently dressed with men wearing jackets. Of course there were only whites in the restaurant, and, of course, we were the only browns, no blacks and no yellows, no Hispanics, no ragheads. A glass of Rose Champagne for HRH the Queen of Kutch and a Gin & Tonic for me while we scanned the menu.

The menu was an absolute delight. So many wonderful dishes – Artichoke Salad, Avocado Vinaigrette, Brown Shrimp Croquettes, Prawn & Avocado Cocktail and so much more. This was just starters. We chose three – the Fish Fingers, Smoked Eel Mousse and Sashimi of Yellow fin Tuna. The more cynical of you may question ordering Sashimi in an Anglo French restaurant. Not to worry folks, remember Sashimi involves no cooking – simply sourcing and slicing fish and serving it with store bought Wasabi and Soy. The Sashimi was pronounced as amazing by HRH the Queen of Kutch. I ate a piece too – brilliant. The Smoked Eel Mousse was top class. Smooth creamy & smoky served with thin Melba Toast points. Just what I wanted. The Fish Fingers were very good too. As the cliché goes, well begun is half done.

Smoked Eel Mousse

Fish Fingers

Sashimi of Yellow Fin Tuna

Choosing the main course was a difficult task. So much to choose from. To me a test of a good restaurant is where you have a short menu and find that you have so much that leaps out at you. This was an instance of that phenomenon. Dover Sole with steamed Potato, Scallops with Vegetables, Lamb Noisettes, Steak Tartare and so much more. Finally HRH the Queen settled on Roast Cod with a Black Olive Crust while I ordered a Salt Beef Pot au Feu. Both dishes were knockouts. Extremely tasty, light with no heavy saucing, no spices just deep flavours. Excellent food. Plates cleaned.

Roast Cod with Black Olive

Salt Beef Pot au Feu

A side of Green Beans

Desserts were old fashioned too – we had a Tunisian Orange and Almond cake, moist and not overly sweet with a lot of Orange flavour, and a Salted Caramel Ice Cream. This was washed down with a Brandy for HRH the Queen and a Calvados for me.

This was a very good meal. No fireworks and no fancy service, just simple straight forward old style cooking. This would be a neighbourhood restaurant where you could eat once a week and always have a good meal. Friendly wait staff, thoroughly competent. This is a place we will happily return several times.

Another wonderful evening.    

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