Star in the making
|Landes foie gras|
This is my second visit back to Celeste, a very prestige hotel restaurant located inside the luxury 5 star Lanesborough Hotel. The reason I decided to return was simple, Celeste's cooking was impressive, full of flair and without a doubt in the Michelin territory. Executive chef Florian Favario has taken his experience from a 3 star kitchen in Paris combining with prime British ingredients to create some of the most exciting dishes I have encountered this year. One very important factor however is knowing the cooking difference between lunch and dinner, because even from the a la carte lunch menu, it is pretty much completely different to the dinner menu (the lunch menu items are much more casual). To fully experience what the Celeste team are truly capable of delivering, come to dinner.
|Foie gras, black truffle, brioche|
Once again I opted for the tasting menu, not sure why they decided to increase the price from £75 to £85 in less than half a year since it opened. Landes foie gras wrapped with truffle was classy and elegant, it was buttery rich and smooth without being challenging on your palate. The scallop was served in a rather interesting way, baked whole so it sealed all the freshness and natural sweetness. The samphire and shallot added an uplifting spicy and salty taste, which linked expectationally well with the scallop. What didn't work for me was the fish course, the cod was cooked perfectly, silky smooth and moist. But the broth was loaded with very strong meaty flavour which completely dominated the settled and dedicated taste of the fish.
|Scottish scallop, seaweed butter, confit leeks|
|cod, lightly spiced bouillon, green lentils|
|smoked venison, beetroot, purple cabbage, civet sauce|
However, the smoked venison was a real winner. The meat was tender and had just the right level of earthiness, the juniper element added a hint of bitter fruity profile which greatly enhanced the overall taste of the meat, combining it with the beetroot, it was a very clever use of ingredients combination. The desserts at Celeste were seriously impressive once again, the balance of richness and sweetness of the Gauannaja chocolate was fantastic. Even better was the oven baked apple, the mild fruity taste of the apple blended in superbly with the caramel, the texture of the apple was perfect as was the flavours. Pastry chef Nicolas Rouzaud is a genius and dare I say, the desserts at Celeste are better than any 2 stars Michelin restaurants in London, and I have been to everyone single one of them (as of the 2015 guide).
|Baked apple, French toast, honey ice cream|
As expected, it was another really high level dining experience and the service was once again top notch. From my observation, the only thing that is holding back from Celeste to be truly great is the hotel management team themselves. Florian's chefs not only need to run breakfast, lunch and dinner services, but also afternoon tea and private events. That is asking far too much for such a small kitchen team. The hotel management really should consider letting the Celeste team just to concentrate on fine dining as they got every chance to make Celeste one of the very best high-end French restaurants in London. You wouldn't see Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley or Helen Darroze at The Connaught doing breakfast for theirs hotel, they have a much bigger team and they only work 6 days a week. So call me a food snoob, but asking such an experience team to make salad and burgers is seriously waste of talent.
What I paid:
£120 pp with a glass of wine
Average cost without drinks and services:
Tasting menu: £85
Hyde Park Corner, London SW1X 7TA