Berners Tavern has a particularly impressive dining room, designed by Ian Schrager. There is a high ceiling, central chandelier and walls packed with paintings. Tables are reasonably well spaced, and there is a bar area to one side. It is part of the Jason Atherton empire, is open all day and had an appealing menu of British dishes.
The wine list offered labels such as Gabrielskloof Sauvignon Blanc 2017 at £45 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £11, Mount Pleasant Semillon “Elizabeth” 2007 at £65 compared to its retail price of £22, and Bachelder Chardonnay 2014 at £95 for a wne that will set you back £29 in the shops.
Crab on toast was simple enough, but benefitted from some good pickled cucumber whose slight sourness was a good balance for the inherent sweetness of the crab (13/20). Raw tuna with avocado and chilli came with radishes, wasabi and a yuzu sauce. The tuna was of reasonable quality and the sharpness of the yuzu was a suitable foil for the inherent fattiness of the tuna (13/20).
Venison Wellington had pastry that was touch a touch on the soggy side, but had nice tasting meat, served with a sauce made from the cooking juices. Although the sauce could have had greater intensity it was still very enjoyable (14/20). On the side, triple cooked chips were excellent, crisp on the outside and cooked properly through on the inside. Miniature macaroni and cheese was suitably rich (13/20) and a side salad of green beans and hazelnuts with flavoured with truffle (which tasted like truffle oil to me, a chemical with no relationship to a truffle) had rather too much mayonnaise (12/20).
For dessert rhubarb crème brulee had nice rhubarb that was not too sharp, but crème brulee that was rather too dense in texture (13/20). Coffee was Musetti, not a brand that inspires me. Service was excellent, our Sicilian waitress friendly and efficient, and the wine topping up could not be faulted. The bill came to £116 a head, albeit with some good Vina Tondonia Reserva. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per head here might be around £90.
Overall, Berners Tavern has quite a lot going for it. The room is undeniably impressive, and the service this evening was very slick. The menu is quite appealing and the execution of the dishes was competent, though not dazzling. The bill, however, is quite high, and whether you are comfortable with the value for money factor will depend on whether the grand setting and smooth service are worth the price premium that you pay.Book
Further reviews: 19th Oct 2013