Brooklands is on the 8th floor of the Peninsula Hotel on Hyde Park Corner. The Brooklands name is taken from the Surrey motor racing track that also is associated with flight innovation. This was the site of the initial meeting between the British and French aircraft industries that later spawned the Concorde supersonic jetliner. Part of the Concorde aeroplanes were constructed at the Brooklands site.
The restaurant, associated with Claude Bosi of Bibendum, has terraced seating in the open air next to the main dining room, with a fine view out over the city. The dining room is quite striking, with a ceiling dominated by a metal sculpture designed to evoke the Concorde. Tables are large and well-spaced and the room has plenty of natural light. The chef de cuisine here is Francesco Dibenedetto, who was formerly head chef of Bibendum for over six years. Prior to that, he had worked in several high-end kitchens including Alinea and also at the Waterside Inn and Le Gavroche. He has a team of twenty chefs cooking for the forty diners that can be seated.
A variety of menus were on offer. There was an a la carte three-course menu at £145, with a five-course tasting menu at £175 and a seven-course menu at £195, as well as a vegetarian version. A wine pairing was available at £145 for six glasses or £105 for four glasses. The wine list had 571 labels and ranged in price from £49 to £12,000, with a median price of £205 and an average markup to the retail price of 3.3 times, which in central London these days seems almost reasonable. Sample references were Chapel Down Bacchus White 2022 at £49 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £17, Mission Hill Chardonnay 2019 at £80 compared to its retail price of £28, and Mullineux Signature Syrah 2020 at £110 for a wine that will set you back £30 in the high street. For those with the means, there was Vega Sicilia Unico 2012 at £980 compared to its retail price of £354, and Penfolds Grange 1989 at £1,150 for a wine whose current market value is £395.
An array of canapes appeared at the start of the meal. Leek tart had a hazelnut base on which was truffle compote, burnt leek mayonnaise and potato tuile. This worked nicely, as did foie gras that had been marinated in brandy, Madeira and white port, which came with mushroom parfait and mushroom duxelles in between a crescent-shaped potato tuile. The tomato taco with fermented plums and Zalotti blossom (a hybrid of watercress and wintercress with a mild, peppery taste) was pleasant and the tomato flavour came through quite well. Quite intriguing was kipper-infused custard with toasted rice consommé, dots of parsley oil and tarragon-compressed Granny Smith apple with pike roe. This sounded potentially jarring but somehow the elements pulled cleverly together, the acidity of the apple balancing the oiliness of the kipper. The best of the canapes by a margin was Coronation chicken emulsion with chicken liver ice cream, toasted brioche, fried baby onion and a reduction of sherry vinegar. The combination of the deep liver flavour with the mildly spiced chicken worked very well indeed, the vinegar providing enough balance to avoid it being overly rich. This was a glorious canape (17/20 canapes on average, higher for the coronation chicken). Bread now appeared in the form of slices of Cornish sourdough with toasted buckwheat inside made from ancient grains which are rich in starch. The bread seemed a little dense in texture to me.
Cornish squid and artichoke was the first formal course. The squid had been marinated with koji rice and was served with artichoke puree and a squid sauce made with the water of cockles, bone marrow dashi, tarragon and butter. A second element was served on the side: confit artichoke salad with mint, oyster leaves and an amaranth seed tuile. The contrast of the earthy artichoke and the squid worked effectively together, and the little salad on the side was nicely judged (17/20).
A modern take on risotto was next, with celeriac from Great Fen Farm in Liphook instead of rice, topped with chunks of steamed crab claw and a sabayon of rock sauce infused with coconut and kaffir lime. The celeriac, cooked in vegetable stock, stood in very well for the usual rice, and its earthy flavour was a charming contrast to the crab, which was enlivened with the acidity of the lime and the freshness of the coconut. This was a clever and very enjoyable dish (18/20).
The main course was guinea fowl with razor clams and sea beet. The guinea fowl was from Pierre Duplantier in Méraqc, the breast stuffed with a mousse of guinea fowl, diced cockles and razor clams. This came with a sea beet and razor clam sauce. On the side confit razor clams, potatoes cooked in smoked butter and sea beet leaves dressed with olive oil and fleur de sel. The bird was carefully cooked and precisely seasoned, having excellent flavour. On the side the razor clams were wrapped in sea beet, and although the clams had nice flavour their texture was a touch closer to chewiness that was less than ideal. However, the sauce was excellent (just about 17/20).
A pair of cheeses were offered, along with a little micro salad. The striking cheese was the seven-year aged Cheddar from Davidstow on the north Cornwall coast, which has been producing aged cheddar for over seventy years. It is a crumbly cheese with great flavour, in some ways reminding me of aged Parmesan. It is the best Cheddar that I have ever tasted. The other cheese was St James from Cumbria, a washed rind ewe milk cheese. These came with excellent malted sourdough bread (much better than the earlier bread) as well as crackers with nigella seeds and golden linen. There was also confit kumquat and pink-pepper skin, as well as a fresh green leaf salad that was dressed with “Minus8” vinegar from New York. The latter is made by picking grapes at -8 degrees temperature, pressed and made them into ice wine before being transformed into vinegar.
A pre-dessert comprised fresh persimmon dressed with plum seed oil (this has a distinct almond and marzipan flavours), along with fresh almond, cocoa mucilage ice cream and an emulsion of lemon and lychee. For me this dish was rather dominated by the almond flavour, and although it was perfectly pleasant the citrus fruit emulsion did not come through quite as much as it might. Ideally a pre-dessert should be refreshing, and this would have occurred had the fruit flavour come through more strongly relative to the almond (16/20).
The main dessert was a riff on apple, with no less than six different apples being used in different forms, along with meadowsweet, which has a flavour that mixes a hint of watermelon with an antiseptic note. The dessert appeared in two elements, as a sphere and also a frozen apple casing on the side containing apple sorbet. Goldrush tuile was sprayed with gold and contained Goldrush ganache, Pink Lady and Braeburn compote, puffed buckwheat and fresh yeast finished with a sorbet of Granny Smith apple. The frozen Bramley apple had an apple broth inside made from diced Cox apple and sorbet of meadowsweet. This was a really lovely dish, the various apple elements combining really well and the meadowsweet being mercifully subdued (18/20).
Coffee was from Difference Coffee. This was accompanied by several petit fours: kumquat and timut pepper bonbon, hazelnut and William pear financier, passion fruit pate de fruit chocolate, and finally a coffee and caramel chou. The coffee petit four in particular was lovely, with profound coffee flavour.
The bill came to £204 per person. If you opted for the three-course a la carte menu and shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per person might be around £190. Service was top-notch, with a very capable waiter (Mario) looking after us today. I was impressed with the standard of the meal at Brooklands, which has only been open a few weeks yet was already producing very high-quality food. Already the kitchen is producing some of the finest dishes to be found in London.