Pavyllon, London: ‘Serious drama, both on the plate and off’ – restaurant review | Food

Pavyllon, The 4 Seasons Resort, Hamilton Place, London W1. Starters £19-£69, mains £28-£179, desserts £18, wines from £38, lunch menu £55.50, tasting menu £148

Good issues don’t all the time come straightforward. These good issues embrace a desk at Pavyllon, the sprauncy new restaurant on the 4 Seasons Resort in London from French famous person and award-crusted chef Yannick Alléno. I guide by typing my debit card digits into Open Desk solely to get a message telling me I’ll obtain a safety e mail that I need to reply to inside 12 hours, or they reserve the precise to offer away my seats. It doesn’t arrive. That is then adopted by a to-and-fro of roughly 10 cellphone calls with the restaurant, an e mail asking me to re-input my card quantity and one other telling me my reserving is cancelled. It’s seemingly countless.

For those who’re bored studying this, think about residing it. These are my struggles. Pray for me. It’s a disgrace, as a result of as soon as I do lastly get there, I’m served a £55.50 five-course lunch menu, which manages that uncommon and blissful trick of showcasing good elements and approach with out ever shedding sight of the crucial to feed. This can be a fancy method of claiming it’s lick-the-plate scrumptious. It’s, I suppose, what we should always anticipate from a chef who holds 15 Michelin stars throughout 17 eating places worldwide, whose quantity contains two different Pavyllons; a chef who, in footage, wears his whites like generals put on their medals. However we’re on the planet of gastronomic ambition, which frequently prioritises fairly over good. Not right here.

‘Perfect smoked salmon is topped with blinis the size of 5p pieces’: smoked salmon.
‘Excellent smoked salmon is topped with blinis the scale of 5p items’: smoked salmon. {Photograph}: Sophia Evans/The Observer

It begins with fat-cheeked child beetroot, completely cooked in order that they maintain chew, then dressed with a cacao French dressing. That’s a chocolate salad dressing, which has by no means been excessive on my gastronomic to-do listing. It seems that in the precise fingers, that are those within the open kitchen over there, all these candy and bitter tones can have one thing to say to one another. There’s a décolletage of two plump, breaded and deep-fried oysters in a superb set beurre blanc, dotted with trout roe, each small and tiny, and chopped chives. Stare at it awhile. Then eat it. Comply with that with a steamed cheese soufflé of ineffable, butterfly-wings-on-your-cheek lightness, with translucent cubes of celeriac. It is available in a celeriac broth dusted with nutmeg.

These have all been comparatively diminutive. However right here comes the primary occasion, a spectacularly well-cooked and sizeable skin-on rooster breast, with a sticky jus in shades of deepest amber, with plentiful girolles and, on the aspect, a pot of French butter-boosted pommes purée so wealthy it will drive an Instagram wellness influencer into prolonged remedy. It ends with a roasted apricot set into caramelised puff pastry, with a scoop of cool lavender ice-cream and spirals of honey. A nook of the pastry is a bit more caramelised than maybe it must be, however even that burnt sugar bitterness provides one thing.

‘Spectacularly well-cooked’: roast chicken.
‘Spectacularly well-cooked’: roast rooster. {Photograph}: Sophia Evans/The Observer

The floridly written à la carte, in the meantime, is damaged up into headings like “our meat” and “our fish” in case you would possibly confuse them with another person’s. There’s additionally “our artistic greens” as in opposition to the dullard ones. Suppose “potatoes glazed with lovage mayonnaise, kombu broth, seaweed and cucumber”. Pricing-wise, it’s all “bloody hell” and “how a lot?” A smoked salmon starter “frivolité” is a lower than frivolous £25. An ideal smoked salmon mousse is wrapped in taut smoked salmon and topped with blinis the scale of 5p items, like shirt buttons, alongside a horseradish cream and beetroot.

4 fats langoustine price £68, in order that’s £17 every. It says they’re evenly crumbed and deep-fried, which makes me assume scampi. However these are extra crusted, and include a “curry mayonnaise”, the form of condiment that solely actually exists in French gastronomy. Neglect the worth; they’re pleasant. In any case, there’s a langoustine tart at £78 and a wagyu and blue lobster tail mille-feuille at £179. So, y’know, cut price! Come the revolution and all that. It ends with wild strawberries “beneath a pomegranate veil”. That’s the type of description that ought to get you thrown out of any self-respecting creative-writing MA. It means a jelly disc. Below the strawberries is orange blossom-flavoured whipped cream. Behold, £18 of loveliness. The menu additionally features a “veil of seaweed” and a “badaboum” egg.

‘Sweet and bitter tones’: beetroot, chocolate vinaigrette.
‘Candy and bitter tones’: beetroot, chocolate French dressing. {Photograph}: Sophia Evans/The Observer

That’s three à la carte programs for £111, or 5 for £55.50. Even for those who go for a budget choice, you’ll nonetheless get the stool for the girl’s purse and columns of waiters who will ask you anxiously in case your day has been good to this point with such depth I’m tempted to invent a rigorous mugging and a distant relative’s dying simply to see how they’d cope. They may convey you ice when your £7 bottle of mineral water turns up heat and exchange it unbidden each 10 minutes. The room, wearing shades of what I imagine Farrow & Ball would name Lulworth Blue, seems snug and padded, however isn’t actually. I can solely assume designer Chahan Minassian is 5ft tall. The banquettes are so low that for those who’re any taller, there’s nowhere in your legs. And but for all that I nonetheless really feel warmly cosseted. There are additionally low chairs that appear to be the kind Center Japanese despots sit on aspect by aspect for a press picture op earlier than a rancorous summit.

At present’s lunch comes with a aspect dish of drama. At 2pm the fireplace alarm sounds. We’re informed cheerily that it’s a check. Why a five-star lodge just like the 4 Seasons would plan its check for the center of lunch as an alternative of, say, 4pm, God solely is aware of. However it will get higher. The second finishes with an announcement that the check is over. If the alarm goes off once more, we should always comply with recommendation. Ten seconds later it does certainly go off once more. It continues for a lot of minutes. In between there are calm recorded bulletins telling us to depart the constructing. No person strikes. The employees grin. The Klaxon honks. And honks. And honks. The woman’s voice politely tells us to save lots of ourselves.

‘£18 of loveliness’: wild strawberries.
‘£18 of loveliness’: wild strawberries. {Photograph}: Sophia Evans/The Observer

Ultimately it stops. We’ve survived. On the finish I ask for the invoice which, with two glasses of home champagne at £31 every, must be round £285. We’re informed there isn’t any invoice. I insist. We pay for each meal we overview. “No, sir,” the supervisor says. “You don’t perceive. Due to the fireplace alarm we’ve got comped the complete restaurant.” So there you could have it. If you need a cut price lunch at Pavyllon on London’s Park Lane, pray for a defective hearth alarm, or simply promote a kidney. Good luck reserving.

Information bites

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The American fried rooster model Popeyes, which catered Beyoncé and Jay Z’s wedding ceremony, has introduced the launch of a UK wedding ceremony catering service. They’re taking bookings by till the tip of 2024, with orders restricted to a most of 150 rooster sandwiches and 150 sizzling wings. The occasion should be inside a 30-minute drive of one among their 20 or so branches. Who mentioned romance is lifeless? Get extra data right here:

The challenges dealing with the hospitality trade have been made plain by the most recent measure of meals value inflation for the sector courtesy of the CGA Status Foodservice Worth Index, which noticed prices rise 22.6% year-on-year to June. Whereas grocery store meals costs rose 0.4% in June, the index was 5 occasions larger for the month at 2.2%. The disparity is all the way down to the a number of small companies that eating places supply from, as in opposition to the economies of scale accessible to the key meals retailers.

Electronic mail Jay at or comply with him on Twitter @jayrayner1

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