101 is a seafood restaurant in the Sheraton Hotel in Knightsbridge. Pascal Proyart is from Brittany, so his love of the produce of the sea is natural. The dining room has (not surprisingly) something of the feel of a hotel but is smart and well appointed. Starters are £14 - £19, mains £23-£29, with the nice touch of being able to put together a tasting menu of 3-6 smaller versions of the a la carte dishes, from £38 - £68.
The wine list is substantial and reflects a lot of thought in the choice of growers. Examples are Cloudy Bay Chardonnay 2006 at £66 for a wine you can buy for around £16 in the shops, or at the higher end the superb Didier Dagenau Silex 2005 at £134 for a wine that you can buy for around £70 or so retail. New Zealand’s excellent Pinot Noirs are represented by Felton Road Pinot Noir 2006 at £83 for a wine that costs around £19 retail, and Ata Rangi Crimson at £50 for a wine that will set you back around £14 in the shops. Bread is made from scratch, and was either white, brown or foccacia, the latter fresh and with agreeably soft texture (5/10).
A nibble of brandade of cod and salmon with a little toast was a pleasant if slightly bland (3/10) way to pass the time as we browsed through the menu. Norwegian red king crab ravioli was cooked “Thermidor” style with cheese, served with duxelle of mushroom and a little crab bisque. The crab flavour came through well, and worked nicely with the earthy flavour of the mushrooms (5/10). Green asparagus risotto was capably executed, with quail egg “onzen” (a Japanese term for hot spring; in this case a slow cooking process) was a nice take on a classic ingredient combination, with chervil as a garnish and some rather superfluous dried morels (4/10).
My main course of guinea fowl and pigeon was roasted, still pink, and with careful seasoning. This was served with a little pancetta, broad beans and peas with sage, with a port-based jus (4/10). My dining companions’ fish dishes involved sea bass cooked in a salt crust, which had good taste but was cooked a fraction too long, and an enjoyable sea bass fillet with tapenade. We didn’t make it to dessert, but coffee was strong and top-ups were offered without any greedy supplements. Our bill was very low mainly because of a half-price offer on the food from Toptable.
Service was attentive and dishes arrived at a steady pace. It is a few years since I have been to One O One, and it is as I recall: good quality fish, cooked generally well, without the dishes ever being really exciting. That may sound like faint praise but I don’t mean it to be; good cooking is a rare enough thing these days, and I have had all the “excitement” I need from a culinary perspective recently in some London restaurants. This is enjoyable food, well executed.