Browns Hotel, Albermarle Street, London, W1S 4BP, United Kingdom

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Editor's note: the restaurant will close at the end of July 2019. It will be missed. 

This is the London outpost of Heinz Beck, where the talented Heros de Agostinis, former sous chef of three star Michelin Pergola, produces his take on sophisticated modern Italian food. There was a tasting menu at £55 as well as an extensive a la carte selection. I have written about the wine list here before, and it is an aggressively priced Mayfair hotel kind of list. One excellent white wine suggestion of the sommelier was the Guido Marsella Fiano di Avellino, made from a local grape and priced at £59 for a £24 retail price wine. This was genuinely good, but the better-known growers are heavily marked up.

My latest meal here began with a trio of canapés. First was Atlantic yellowfin tuna and yuzu mayonnaise on a remarkably delicate seaweed crisp, which had excellent tuna that was beautifully balanced by the acidity of the yuzu. A crisp taco was topped with buffalo mozzarella and partially dried San Marzano tomato, which had deep tomato flavour. The third nibble was a smoked salmon tartlet with potato cream and horseradish cream. The pastry was delicate and the level of bite from the horseradish was nicely judged. This was a really impressive set of canapés (18/20). Bread was a choice of white, seeded and olive bread from a company called Swiss Bread UK.  The olive bread in particular was very good. 

Crab was prettily presented, with papaya puree, avocado purée and papaya sauce along with purple potato chips. The crab tasted very fresh and was shell-free, and the avocado is a classic combination, the potato crisps providing a textural contrast (17/20). I tried calf sweetbread with tomato sauce and mixed garden vegetables including turnips and beans. This was genuinely classy, the vegetables lovely and the sweetbread having great flavour and texture (18/20).

Spaghetti came with langoustine and carefully podded broad beans, the pasta flavoured with Amalfi lemon, whose acidity nicely went with the natural sweetness of the shellfish. I’d have been happy enough just with the spaghetti and the vegetables, which were superb (17/20). John Dory was served with green and white asparagus in assorted textures. The fish was nicely cooked and the asparagus was excellent; a recurring garnish in this meal was pea shoots, which in this case were perhaps superfluous (16/20). Sea bass came with fried courgette flower, bak choi and a vegetable “gazpacho”. The fish skin was a touch on the over-crisp side but the flesh was good, and the courgette flower worked vey well (16/20). Triple cooked chips on the side were very good, though could have been just a touch crisper on the outside.

Poached rhubarb with raspberries, granola, rhubarb ice cream and white chocolate was very pleasant, the rhubarb not too sharp (15/20).  The Beck take on tiramisu had plenty of deep coffee flavour but was rather light on the sponge element (16/20). Coffee was Illy, and came with several petit fours. A tartlet of peach purée, pistachio purée and fresh ricotta with caramelised pistachio. There was also white chocolate and raspberry fudge, which seemed overly sweet to me, and also a very good Grand Marnier chocolate truffle.  

Service was superb, and the bill came to £125 a head. If you ordered three courses and shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per person might be around £85. With starters mostly north of £20 and the main course fish dishes at £35 or more this is never going to be a cheap outing, but the standard of cooking here is extremely high. Each meal I have eaten here has been better than the last and is surely the best Italian food in London at present.

Further reviews: 18th Dec 2018 | 10th Jun 2018 | 08th May 2018

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  • Kabir

    Can't believe it closed so soon. It was probably the best Italian restaurant in London and was en route to achieving the level once achieved by Apsleys.