Open Mon–Fri and Sun midday–1am; Sat midday–midnight
The style & the crowd:
Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud’s London outpost, located in the basement of the grand Mandarin Oriental, has been around for three years (already!) but it’s as busy as ever – drawing a mix of families, hotel guests, business people (none of whom were alone or talking loudly into their mobile) and the odd couple holding hands across the table.
With its wine cellar-inspired interior (by Adam D. Tihany), vintage oak, burgundy red leather banquettes, open kitchen and zinc-topped bar, it has a buzzy New York brasserie feel (Daniel Boulud is originally from Lyon but is based in New York).
The food & drinks:
Despite a charcuterie from Gilles Verot and a selection of sophisticated French brasserie dishes, the burgers – Yankee (the boyf’s choice), Frenchie and Piggie – are the biggest draw. I’d also been recommended the white cosmopolitan (think St. Germain elderflower liqueur and white cranberry served over a pansy pressed in an ice ball), but alas, I would probably need a lie down in one of The Mandarin’s rooms if I’d had one at lunchtime… So we enjoyed a glass of peachy Vermentino instead.
The boyf wolfed down his 8oz medium-rare rich patty dressed with lettuce, tomato, pickle and sweet onion (£12.75) and a side of creamy spinach (£4.75) while I was surprised to discover an equally well executed, and even inspiring, vegetarian option – an artichoke heart and celeriac root subric with tomatoes, broad beans and a lemon dressing (£16). We rounded things off with a fluffy cloud-like caramel soufflé and caramel salted popcorn (£10).
Service was impeccable – staff were friendly, knowledgeable and on the ball. Astonishingly, Nathalie, the lovely front-of-house lady, remembered what I wore when I last saw her – at WLL’s first birthday party three years ago. I’m sure it will be a lot sooner before I next see her…