Below are notes from a meal in August 2007, by way of comparison.
Bread is a choice of rolls: baguette, white or country bread. Bread is generally bought in from The Bread Factory, and I have to say I prefer their sliced bread to the rolls which are served here e.g. the country bread was a little chewy for me, though the white rolls were well made (17/20 bread).
The wine list is 42 densely packed pages of top quality wines, almost entirely French. Growers in the major regions are the very finest e.g. from Alsace you have Zind Humbrecht (perhaps the best of all) as well as Trimbach, Hugel and Ostertag, amongst others. There are half a dozen Gewürztraminers, when many wine lists would not feature even one e.g. Trimbach 2003 at £38 (retail price £9.32). Cuvee Frederich Emile Riesling 2003 from the same grower is listed at £55 (retail price around £20). The Languedoc Roussillon region has no fewer than 25 reds listed, but coverage of other countries is very sketchy, and restricted to the high end e.g. from Australia there is only Grange Hermitage listed e.g. 1988 at a spicy £720 (retail price £145). Similarly from Spain there are just five red wines, including Vega Sicilia Unico 1989 at £460 (retail price £110).
By contrast the high end of France is covered in loving depth e.g. Romanee Conti going back to 1971 (for any traders who have just made a large bonus, this is at £6,980 for a wine that can be bought for £4,508, which I suppose constitutes a modest mark-up). The northern Rhone has many of the top wines from Guigal e.g. La Mouline 2000 for £395 (retail price £124). There are several pages of dessert wines and plenty of halves. Quirkily no wines are listed by the glass, but they will do some on request. As can be seen, mark-ups vary significantly, and although the list is heavily slanted to the top end there are a few choices for people on a budget, with one obscure bottle of white at just £20. There is a good selection of desert wines by the glass (full 125 ml glasses) and you can drink right up to Chateau Yquem 1999 for £90 a glass, while Klein Constantia 2001 dessert wine is a more affordable £15. The award-winning Sipon ice wine from Slovenia is listed at £48 a glass (£112 for a bottle retail).
The prices here are certainly ambitious, with starters going up to £52 and the cheapest at £20.90, while main courses range from £26.90 to £46.20. Cheese is £13.80, while desserts are especially costly, from £12.80 to £30.80, and coffee at £6.40. A range of nibbles appeared as we browsed the extensive wine list. Savoury artichoke beignet had fresh and good quality artichoke, while a chorizo spring roll had superb deep-fried coating, while asparagus tips and truffle has in season baby asparagus. These worked better than cod brandade, which was over-salty and had a rather chewy base (17/20 overall).
I had scallops that were lightly seared, served in a ring around a few salad leaves and surrounded by a further ring of carrot "spaghetti", all resting in an excellent mustard tarragon sauce that had its mustard flavour in careful control so as not to overwhelm the scallops (17/20).
Crab was served in two forms, simply with an excellent salad of high quality tomatoes drizzled with lime and coriander dressing, and fried soft shell crab along with some rather unnecessary melba toast. The dressing on the salad was very well balanced and the crab itself very high quality, while the soft shell crab avoided any greasiness (18/20).
Turbot was served on the bone and was beautifully cooked, the fish having tremendous flavour, enhanced by a simple, classic butter and chive sauce. This was accompanied by courgette rolls inside which was ratatouille, and chickpea chips. This is classic French cooking at its best, taking a top quality ingredient and bringing out its flavour very well (19/20).
It was similarly hard to fault a fine piece of fillet of beef, served with a lovely port sauce that had been reduced to a glorious thick consistency and intensity, offered with a generous slab of excellent foie gras and macaroni with very good texture flavoured with truffle. Perhaps this could have benefited from something with some acidity to offset the richness of the dish, but there was a little pot of vegetables on the side: carrots, runner beans and baby squash cooked in butter (19/20).
The cheese board here was extensive, mostly supplied by Jacques Vernier of Paris, supplemented by a few British cheeses e.g. Mrs Montgomery Cheddar. Cheeses were in good condition e.g. Camembert, Munster that was ripe but not overly so, and Bleu d’Auvergne (18/20). The Roux kitchens are famous for their desserts, and we were not disappointed tonight. My passion fruit soufflé had flawless texture, fluffy with strong passion fruit flavour, topped with excellent white chocolate ice cream served at the table. The passion fruit’s acidity balanced the chocolate well, and technically this was extremely impressive (19/20). A plate of raspberry desserts featured millefeuille with beautiful pastry, while a mini raspberry soufflé was as good as my own, while raspberry sorbet had excellent texture. Best of all was a raspberry beignet, with a delightfully light, sweet sugar coating covering the raspberries inside. This was comfortably 19/20,and indeed the beignet was 20/20.
Filter coffee and espresso were excellent, with strong coffee flavour. My espresso arrived in a proper sized coffee cup, filled up (no smear of coffee at the bottom here). It was also topped up as often as desired (the contrast with the Vineyard, where my request to top up my tiny pool of espresso was charged at a supplement, could hardly have been greater). Petit fours were also top drawer: light tuile, superb "opera" sponge, superb pistachio macaroon and even a more than edible Chinese gooseberry sugar coated and flavoured with coconut (normally I find Chinese gooseberries pretty awful, so to make this taste nice shows some talent). Petit fours were 19/20.