Our welcome was pleasant, genuinely friendly, unintimidating and made us feel instantly at ease. There was no rush, we were offered a choice of tables for two as we had arrived before some of the other tables had filled.
The ambiance was one of quite, unobtrusive, convivial elegance. Everything was delicate, stylish, and there was a timeless quality with elements that could well have come from the 1930s, 1960s and the present day. The clientele around us included couples, two girls ‘out for lunch’, a group of three businessmen and a family of four.
The wine, at under £40 for a bottle of goodish Chardonnay, was fine for a pleasant lunch. Amazingly the sommelier was able to identify the wine from the bin number alone from hundreds of wines on the list…. Either we have a taste for very popular wine or the sommelier has remarkable expertise…. we think the latter.
The staff knew that we were celebrating a birthday with a quite meal for two before a concert at the Albert Hall but there was no embarrassing fuss, no gimmicks, just a discrete mention and some excellent champagne. It was precisely what we wanted and it was all achieved in a remarkable professional, pleasant and delightful manner.
We had intended to have a simple lunch but both decided to go for the tasting menu. Given the price of £75 per head, we expected something special but what arrived was sublime and better than we have experienced in a couple of other Gordon Ramsay restaurants.
A little amuse-bouche was stunningly presented in a tiny transparent bowl and was packed with flavor and texture. One component was a miniature spear of asparagus, which was perfectly prepared.
The one concern that we had with the tasting menu was the foie gras parfait with golden beetroot, port and voatsiperifery pepper. Foie gras is often unexciting but it was again beautifully presented as an immaculate cylinder perfectly and precisely coated with the port and pepper sauce. …. and was decorated with delicate, tiny flower petals. Our first though was ‘how do they do that?’ our second thought was ‘how do they make it taste so good?"
Our second course of roasted scallops, peas, lettuce, lardo di Colonnata, crème fraîche and lemon thyme sounded pretentious and seemed tiny... but it looked amazingly well presented and was again perfectly executed. It was served on a stunning plate. We couldn’t fault a single element.
Our Cornish monkfish tail with roast cauliflower wild garlic, nori seaweed and smoked mussels looked too good to eat. The monkfish was probably some of the best we’ve ever eaten and it was cooked precisely to perfection. Not wishing to seem like tourists, ‘Heaven forbid” we took a quick snap… it still looks like something off the cover of a very, very posh cook book.
We both had the main course of Goosnargh duck with honey, lavender, fennel,
blood orange, radish and scorched cos lettuce but we made it just that bit more challenging for the Chef by asking for one mediun-rare and the other medium. They came exactly as we wanted them and as they should have in such a fine establishment. The duck breast was exceptional and even the skin was delicious… it must have been rubbed with the honey and lavender and left to rest before it was cooked. The scorched lettuce sounded odd but came crisp, chilled and flame blacken on the top. It looked good on the plate and it was one of the star turns of the meal.
The “Pimm’s cocktail” with iced chai tea came complete with the maître d'hôtel shaking a cocktail to pour over it. Again, it was delicate, looked very appealing and it was delicious.
The chocolate sphere milk ice cream and honeycomb as the final desert was a wonderful piece of theatre. Both of us liked the flavour but one of us would have personally chosen less honeycomb. The other would have put some of the bitterest 100% unsweetened coco in the middle as an amazing surprise…. Just no pleasing some people! Even dared to suggest it to the Chef…. Thankfully it was treated in the good-natured way that was intended and tea, coffee, almonds, chocolates and after-lunch drinks followed in leisurely succession.
Overall… was it worth it? Would we recommend it? Well, if money was no object, Petrus could become our favourite restaurant. We went to enjoy a pleasant lunch rather than pretend to be foodie critics… so for us… Petrus was perfect .
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