Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel, Knightsbridge, London, England, SW1X 7LA, United Kingdom

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A March 2003 meal was as follows. The dishes seem more complex now, but there was stil the emphasis on fine ingredients and excellent technique.

A nibble of lobster brandade had excellent texture and full lobster flavour (17/20), served with a thin strip of melba toast – a little joke about hotel dining rooms, perhaps? Poached Scottish lobster consisted of five pieces of lobster in a pentagon, with a central display of confit tomatoes and artfully brushed vinaigrette of crab, with a few pools of rather tasteless caviar dressing. The presentation was lovely but the lobster was a little chewy – a problem that seems to afflict even successful restaurants (15/20). My starter of ravioli of scallops was much better. This had four tender scallops arranged around the rim of the plate interspersed with delicately roasted pieces of langoustine. In the centre of the dish was a single piece of ravioli enclosing a mousse of scallops, with a few baby leeks as a garnish. This was coated with a fluffed up truffle vinaigrette. The mouse had good texture but I feel that scallops have too delicate a flavour to really survive this process. Still, the individual scallops were excellent, and the langoustines were very tender (17/20). For main course, a piece of sea bass was expertly pan-fried, served with a little tortellini of lobster, with some braised celery hearts and a little caper vinaigrette, which worked well (16/20). Bresse pigeon was lightly cooked and served pink, served with a piece of roasted celeriac, some girolles and some white cabbage that was shredded so thin that it had lost its flavour. However the bouillon of the pigeon was excellent (17/20).

Cheese was a mixed bag, with dull Emmental but a Brie in nice condition, some rather chalky St More goat’s cheese and some indifferent Stilton (14/20 cheese). Desserts picked the pace back up, with an excellent lemon tart with a lemon sorbet that suffered from too many ice crystals, but offset by a good mini lemon soufflé (17/20). Hot chocolate fondant had excellent texture. Served with a fine whiskey ice cream and a caramel "craqulin" that was just a thin slice of caramel. Also excellent was an unannounced sliver of rolled up filo pastry containing chocolate (17/20).

Espresso (18/20) was better than filter coffee (16/20), with a mixed bag of chocolates that had good truffles but lacklustre pistachio chocolates and orange sticks (petit fours 14/20). Service was indifferent all evening. We arrived at 19:30 but our starter did not arrive until 20:30. The waiter brought one incorrect cheese and was unsure who had ordered which dessert. He also managed to bring a pre-dessert of excellent mini crème brulee (17/20) before my cheese, which probably would have resulted in summary dismissal in France. The wine waiter seemed generally confused throughout ("the sommelier is in Italy") and while it was all well meaning, the service was poor.

Further reviews: 01st Apr 2009 | 03rd Mar 2007

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