The Lanesborough Hotel, Hyde Park Corner, London, England, SW1X 7TA, United Kingdom

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The new chef at Apsleys, Heros de Agostinis, was previously the senior sous chef at the three star Michelin restaurant Pergola in Rome. The new kitchen team has quickly found its feet, as I discovered when I tried the tasting menu in June 2012, on which this latest review is based (I subsequently had a similar standard meal in October 2012). A series of bite-sized nibbles appeared on silver spoons: crunch potato with caviar, crab, avocado and tomato, langoustine tartare with cucumber and papaya, and carpaccio of beef with Parmesan and lemon dressing. There were also some good tempura vegetables. The best of these was the crab, which had high quality ingredients and is a classic combination, but these were all classy nibbles (between 17/20 and 18/20).

A lobster salad had tender lobster, the salad with a well-judged dressing, also a little strawberry, which was an unusual but not illogical idea (16/20). The dish of the night was foie gras terrine with quinoa and cherry sauce. The foie gras had smooth texture and intense flavour, the seasonal cherries providing balancing acidity, the quinoa a firm textural contrast: this was a stunning dish (19/20).

Langoustine tempura with couscous, basil dressing and matchsticks of courgettes was garnished with edible flowers, and was excellent. The tempura was light and also was present in sufficiently small quantity to enhance the core ingredient rather than to be the main show. This was a similar approach to that of top tempura restaurants in Japan, such as Nanachome Kyobashi, but such lightness of touch with tempura is a rarity in the UK (18/20).

Marinated tuna with fennel and orange worked well as a combination, the orange able to cut through the natural richness of the tuna (17/20). This was followed by a rustic pasta dish from Rome with black pepper, in this case given a twist with the addition of langoustines. The pasta was so good that I didn’t think it really needed the langoustines (between 17/20 and 18/20). A scallop with a lightly pesto sauce and a hint of curry was cooked well, and the subtle spicing did not overwhelm the scallop, though this was not quite in the league of some of the other dishes (16/20). Wild sea bass (which had been cooked in a salt crust) had excellent flavour and was carefully cooked (17/20). My main course was a superb pigeon dish with an unusual but effective whisky sauce (18/20).

Desserts were not quite to the same level of the rest of the meal tonight. A pre-dessert of saffron cream, orange ice cream and almond foam had very good orange ice cream but had rather over-dominant almond flavour (16/20). A semifreddo with chocolate ganache and rice crisp had lovely ganache, but I was less sure about the rice crisp as a partner for the other elements (16/20). Finally a milk ice cream with Amadei chocolate was well made (17/20).

Service was pretty much flawless throughout the evening. The bill came to £120 a head, of which the tasting menu was £85 (there is a five course tasting menu at £65). This was a very classy meal, overall between 17/20 and 18/20 level, and the new chef is already operating at a high level.

Further reviews: 18th Dec 2013 | 21st Sep 2013 | 23rd Jul 2013 | 05th Apr 2013 | 09th Feb 2013 | 01st Mar 2011 | 01st Sep 2010 | 01st Feb 2010 | 01st Dec 2009 | 01st Sep 2009

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