Céleste at The Lanesborough

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The death of posh nosh has been greatly exaggerated, for Céleste at The Lanesborough has gone under the knife this past year – and it’s ‘posher’ than ever. Regency splendour is the name of the game here and white-gloved Englishness is but standard.

I’m dining at 7pm on a Friday after being advised that dinner is the best time to fully appreciate the experience. My companions are the gregarious Donna Coulling and Jack, my Club and Events Manager – and those of you who’ve had the pleasure of their company will appreciate I’m set for a fun evening ahead.

As we swish into the shiny new dining room, aside from two businessmen the restaurant is oh-so quiet – all this is about to change now that we’ve arrived. Piano notes soon fill the air and I feel as though I’ve stepped onboard the Titanic into it’s first-class dining saloon. Gleaming silverware, snowy linen and a riot of richly-decorated furnishings and assorted objects d’art sit underneath a domed glass roof, illuminated by spectacular hanging chandeliers, making this one of London’s loveliest dining rooms.

We are advised that the five-course menu with accompanying wines is the way to go. Chef Patron at The Lanesborough Eric Frechon – Paris’ most esteemed three Michelin-starred chef – has brought his protégé, Florian Favario to head up proceedings and the long-time tradition of French cooking reaches its apogee here, with a menu built on prime produce.

The cooking is full on luxe. Each of the small and beautifully assembled dishes we are presented are revealed from beneath silver domes.

Smoked grilled leeks and tartare of Cornish rock oysters with warm butter was an unusual way to kick off proceedings, followed by sautéed gnocchi with black truffle sauce – although a tad on the salty side for my liking, it was nonetheless finished in its entirety. A light main of day boat cod with Tokyo turnips came with a shrimp broth, which was theatrically poured in front of me, followed by the succulent and intensely flavoured oven-roasted saddle of lamb, which was warmly sating.

Not only do you eat well here, you drink well too. Expect only the plummiest wine of lists. There are Sancerres, Saumur-Champigny’s, Riojas, a super Fonseca LBV Port to wash down the cheeses and Pedro Ximenez to heighten the sweetness of the guanaja dark chocolate pud with caramelised praline, topped off with a dollop of roasted coffee bean ice cream – in all honesty though, I would have liked two. Plate smears galore for decoration purposes make the arrangement incredibly pretty.

Céleste is a throwback to a bygone time. It’s architecturally grand, yet cosy and intimate. As for the ever-attentive service, proceedings just glide, poised and perfect, courtesy of a posse of look-sharp waiters.

FYI – There is a semi-private dining room that seats up to 12, which can be closed or open to the main floor, and two wine-tasting rooms offer an impressive array of tipples.

‘Céleste’ derives from the late 19th century, meaning ‘heavenly’. Rather apt, non?

The five-course tasting menu is £85pp & £140pp with accompanying wines

Céleste; The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner, London SW1X 7TA; 020 7259 5599; lanesborough.com

The PA verdict
The Lanesborough is a properly beautiful grown-up hotel, recently refurbished and situated on the corner of Hyde Park in Knightsbridge. Super attentive, friendly staff, with a great bar perfect for an after-work gin and tonic and the piano takes it to another level of sophistication.

The restaurant is bright with glass décor – opting for the five-course tasting menu with accompanying wines seemed the only way to go to glean the full Lanesborough experience. With a choice of vegetarian or regular menu, each dish was served with a theatrical flourish via a glass or silver dome covering the plates. Everything was beautifully presented and every dish explained – to the extent of having my parsnip presented to me before the chef cooked it and then served covered by a silver dome post-cooking (we did laugh at that – a lot). The wines were delicious and complemented each dish as they should; the cheese we wanted to take home with us, as with the dessert.

My vegetarian options were varied and extremely elegantly put together; my only criticism personally is that I would have liked a bit more protein in the dishes.

A great choice of restaurant for a CEO wanting to impress a guest from out of town. There was no rushing between courses, a relaxed atmosphere but to an extremely high and professional standard.

If anyone needs a G&T partner in crime any Friday, just give me the nod.
Donna Coulling

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    Amelia Walker

    Editor – PA Life

    All stories by: Amelia Walker