DINING OWL AWARDS: 2nd – for friends; 3rd – for decor
When I visited: Various times, from 2013-2017
Location: London, near Oxford Street
Team: Jason Atherton (Chef Patron), Phil Carmichael (Chef de Cuisine), Pierre Noublanche (General Manager), Daniel Murray (Head Sommelier)
Rating in the Michelin Guide: Recommended
What to wear: Men – jeans or nice trousers and a shirt; women – jeans and a smart top or a smart dress
Ambience: Booths, cool art on the walls, high ceilings
Course of the meal: Green beans with truffle sauce and hazelnuts
If I could change one thing: More lunch options at weekends
Berners Tavern, in the London Edition hotel, has had moments of being classed as a celebrity hotspot, patronised during Fashion Week, just like Balthazar and the Chiltern Firehouse. The open-plan bar and restaurant layout is set within a high-ceilinged, large space with both classic and quirky art on the walls.
This restaurant is a good choice for a group friends or for a date, as long as whoever is paying can afford it; it is fairly expensive. It also has a busy, lively atmosphere. The cocktails are cool and the food, with English and European influences, is high-quality and generously portioned.
On my most recent visit for a group lunch, the service was particularly attentive, with our glasses constantly being filled up and with staff directing us to the ‘closer’ toilets whenever we got up, rather than letting us walk through the hotel. The toilets were also very nice, which is always a good touch; there were individual cubicles with hand towels and posh toiletries.
Food-wise, I was slightly surprised to see that for a weekend lunch most of the options were more ‘brunchy’ with lots of egg-based all-day breakfast options; this would be great if you hadn’t already had lunch but as I had, the options were somewhat limited. However, we were still able to select lovely seafood starters (beautifully light crab dishes and scallops served in shells with salad) before moving on to share enormous portions of Côte de Boeuf with a wonderful side of green beans with truffle sauce and hazelnuts, and beef wellington with truffle mash and spinach.
The sommelier was very friendly too and praised our choice of a good-value Pouilly-Fuissé which was light and flowery; apparently it was his favourite white from a small vineyard where the wine-maker uses horses in the process and no chemicals. We also enjoyed cocktails (like the Dill or No Dill – someone at Gymkhana must have had the same pun-tastic idea for cocktail naming) while perusing the menu.
Being pretty full from the beef, I didn’t partake in a dessert but the rest of the table did and shared a flaming Alaska (on fire, boozy, with cherries) and an apple eclair, as well as teas and coffees.