Friday, May 17, 2019

Celeste - London

The Lanesborough Hotel is at Hyde Park Corner. This is not a large hotel, though very swish. I believe that pre renovation it was the favourite of Russian Oligarchs. The Hotel underwent a huge renovation in 2015. Aspleys the longstanding restaurant was renamed Celeste and opened with a fresh team. Our old friend Enrico from Le Gavroche was appointed restaurant manager and with a high-powered Chef on board the restaurant was poised to great things. Then, the Chef changed and Enrico left to join Claude Bosi at Bibendum. Today Steeven Gilles is the Chef on board with anew team front of house. The restaurant has 1 star in Michelin. The website describes the food and experience as “Honouring British heritage and provenance with modern European creativity, Céleste's aim is to take you on a culinary journey of great flavours and food with a real story.” Pretty tough to live up to if you ask me.

We made bookings from Mumbai and our friends from Mumbai who were also going to be in London decided to join us for dinner. The table was for 7.30 pm. We decided to have a pre-dinner drink at the Library Bar. The Bar was lovely. Great ambience, an older crowd, all well-dressed. We thoroughly enjoyed our drinks, a Sipsmith Gin Martini for HRH the Queen of Kutch and a Negroni for me.

We walked across the corridor to our table at Celeste. The room was large with a large skylight covering most of the area. Tables were on two levels. The room was done up in blues and golds with a large chandelier dominating the room. I thought the décor was off, something was not quite right, but I am in the minority. Most people like the room.

Thankfully, jut one menu comprising of two sections, a Tasting Menu and an a la carte. Compact. The Wine list was extensive, and, in my view, very sensibly, has a section 60 under 60 where there were 30 Reds and 30 Whites all priced at less than £ 60.

Bread and butter were served. The butter was excellent, whipped and smoked. An Amuse Bouche was served. This was our `Sabudana’ wafer, except classily done, with various purees and herbs. Quite nice.

The menu was compact, as I have written earlier. With four of us on the table we did not order everything on the menu. There were many repeat dishes. The photos have the descriptions.

Perfect Cotswold Legbar hen egg white asparagus, stew broad beans and Jabugo ham mayonnaise

Morrels stuffed with chicken farce, mixed herb smoked mashed potatoes and yellow wine sauce. Please note the "Sabudana" element

Halibut roasted, mixed herb smoked mashed potatoes, sautéed spring onion and lobster peppercorn sauce

Chilean sea bass confit, black rice organic noodle glaze with peanuts butter and coriander 

Mille feuille parfait, caramel tuile, and puff pastry shard 

Unfortunately, the overall meal was very patchy. Service was decent, nothing unusual neither good or bad. Simply standard. No particular charm. Both starters were excellent, the Morels particularly so. My Hens Egg starter was constructed like what they do in Australia. The plate is smeared with a sort of sauce/dressing/creamy element and the rest of the ingredients piled on top. My Egg had a Ham flavored Mayonnaise on the base. Made the dish quite heavy. But I admit, seasoning was spot on as was the runny yolk of the egg and the colours of the dish.

The Main courses proved more problematic. I had no real problem with mine however, the Cod ordered by 3 of us was a problem. The protein itself was excellent. The Noodles were sticky claggy and bland. The dish has no sauce. The sauce element came by way of spiced peanut butter in which the noodles were tossed. HRH the Queen of Kutch was very dis-satisfied. There was an additional problem with the menu. The "Sabudana" trick repeated itself on the Morel dish, this time the "Sabudana" being coloured with Squid Ink. Smoked Mashed Potato appeared on some starters as well as main courses. So if you ordered a starter and main with this common element you would not be pleased. The butter too was smoked. Someone needed to edit the menu. 

Just one dessert was ordered. Again, a similar texture unfortunately. Creamy. So, my meal began with a creamy Mayonnaise and ended with a creamy parfait.

Through the evening the restaurant was barely ¼ full. This is almost peak season in London and it was a glorious early summer evening in a top hotel. I have always felt that for some reason, generally speaking, restaurants in grand hotels just do not work. The magic element is missing. We have seen this in Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, the Dining Room at the Goring and at Helene Darroze at the Connaught. This is another example. One restaurant that does work, and work well is the Dining Room at the Ritz. Now that is a beautiful room, with food to match.

In the end the experience was subpar. Does this place deserve a Star in Michelin, I believe not? That, alas is a problem with Michelin not the restaurant. Michelin need to judge a bit more judiciously. 

Did this restaurant live up to the claim and promise on its website that I have reproduced in the opening paragraph? Most certainly not.  Would I recommend this restaurant? No.

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