Archive for July, 2014

Restauarant Review: Inn the Park, St James Park (July 2014)

Posted on: July 29th, 2014 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

The Beautiful Setting of Inn the Park in St James’ Park London.


The British penchant for al fresco dining is deeply ingrained and understandable given the limited days of fine weather in the summer months. Even those –usually men –who spend hardly any time in the kitchen think they can cook when faced with an outdoor charcoal grill and raw meat.

However, the supposed joys of barbecues on the patio, picnics in the park and terrace dining in restaurants and are plagued by the inconsistencies of cooking, insect attack  and the unpredictability of the weather. For those who prefer to avoid these pitfalls yet enjoy the fresh air and outdoor beauty, and not just in the summer, Inn the Park, has filled a much needed gap. Ground breaking in being the first British park restaurant to open all year round, with all day eating, its idyllic location by the lake in St James’s Park gives it an unrivalled position in the heart of the capital.

Part of the Peyton and Byrne group, Inn the Park is far removed from the stereotypical shack-like park cafés with their outside foldaway tables and chairs and collapsible parasols. A permanent single storey pavilion designed by Hopkins architects, it is cleverly set into a gently rising hillock, so benefitting thermally from being embedded in the ground. A grass covered roof offers excellent views of the lake from the upper terrace bar. Although beautiful all year round and at most times of the day, sunset on a warm evening in the height of summer in St James Park holds a particular magic.

The exterior looks neither like a “Swiss chalet” nor a “park folly” as two commentators have described it. In a natural grey palette which harmonises well with the natural surroundings, it features a glass wall of sliding panels and a wide veranda which is heated in winter and offers shade in summer. The honey coloured timber interior, designed by Tom Dixon, provides space for a 100 seat restaurant, with bespoke furniture and fittings of rugged, natural and sustainable materials. A recent refurbishment to celebrate its tenth anniversary has seen new bar on the main terrace, larchwood flooring, lighting and furnishings. Wide tubular steel and leather chairs provide comfortable seating around well-spaced tables. Therefore the attractive surroundings are not confined just to the outside the restaurant.

Given its prime location and  popularity with tourists, local residents, and public servants – it is a stone’ s throw from many Whitehall departments – Inn the Park serves  breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner whilst also offering a “Grab and Go” self-service section for sandwiches, salads, cakes and pastries. Fine Dining Guide visited on a weekday evening in July to sample the dinner menu.

In line with the overall philosophy of organic sustainability, Head chef Colin Kelly’s seasonally changing menu focuses largely on British produce sourced from local specialist suppliers, often artisan producers and rare breed farmers. The carte comprises six each of starters (£3.50 – £11), mains (£13-  £24) and desserts, including cheese, (£2.90 – £8.50), helps to ensure consistency of cooking whilst offering a reasonable choice of meat, fish and vegetarian options at a competitive price point for central London

Although not intended to be fine dining, dishes are imaginative, generously portioned, accurately timed, well-seasoned and attractively presented. Ingredients are mainly British, but cooking can adopt European influences as seen in seabass tartar, beef carpaccio, and a stew of squid and hake with chorizo.

Diners might want to indulge in a pre prandial cocktail –  Sage Bison, Plum and Elderflower Julep or Thyme Colin –  or choose from a selection of craft beers. The wine list includes 16 by the glass (starting from £4.75), including several rosés and sparkling wines.

A salad starter of utterly fresh Devon crab saw the deliciously sweet white meat dressed with a light mayonnaise. Ripe, creamy chunks of avocado were mixed with the Romaine leaves and broad beans and given added interest by a scattering of crisp gingerbread crumbs. Delicious in itself, the dish might have benefitted from more crumbs, a citrus lift and a little of the brown crab meat for extra flavour. (Why is the brown meat so generally underused?)


Another starter of Carpaccio of beef had been lightly smoked, dressed in oil and served with deep fried capers and a celeriac remoulade. This was a happy marriage of balanced flavours and textures, the mustardy qualities of the remoulade complementing the thin slices of beef particularly well.


It was pleasing, given the restaurant’s sourcing policy, to see Cornish Megrim sole, far more sustainable than its more fashionable and expensive Dover and Lemon sole cousins, offered as a main course. Whilst not as delicate and refined in texture, Megrim sole still has a pleasant flatfish quality.  Served on the bone to retain its succulence, a whipped shrimp butter added richness and crustacean flavour.


Sides of seasonal buttered fresh peas, green beans and shallots and Cornish new potatoes went well with this dish.

Rib eye steak, cooked medium rare as requested on the new state of the art BBQ, was full of bovine flavour produced by its good marbling. Richness was added by smoked bone marrow and onion puree and a reduction of the juices brought the elements together. Chunky hand cut chips, crisp on the outside with a fluffy interior, proved the perfect accompaniment.


Desserts are of the decadent variety, ranging from sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream to Eton Mess. An ITP sundae, with layers of ice cream, fruit and whipped cream, fortunately not of Knickerbocker Glory proportions, was sampled, satisfying the sugar hit that was craved. Simple hand-made ice cream of velvety texture, provided a simpler alternative.


Service at Inn the Park is young, welcoming and eager to please, being overseen by restaurant manager Ross Davis. The ambience is relaxed and informal, in line with the wishes of the majority of those who eat out nowadays.

Overall, it is not difficult to see why Inn the Park has been successful over the past decade, combining the pleasures of al fresco eating with the security of comfort and good food if the weather deteriorates. Given its recent makeover and enticing menus, it is likely to go from strength to strength. Fine Dining Guide will be sure to visit again, perhaps for lunch or afternoon tea or for Ribs on the Roof,’ a summer promotion daily from 5pm , offering a half-rack of ribs with spicy coleslaw and a Saxon beer for £10.

Restaurant Review, Latium, London (June 2014)

Posted on: July 10th, 2014 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Latium Restaurant

The current vogue in opening large restaurants in London has added to the embarrassment of choice in dining out. Whether in overstated glamourous rooms in revamped West End hotels and banks , or converted East End warehouses with industrial chic design, these new establishments often come with unwelcome disadvantages for prospective diners: difficulties in acquiring tables, unless they are celebrities; labyrinthine booking systems or a no booking policy; vast, overpriced menus about which waiting staff are inadequately briefed; service that is so perfunctory guests feel tolerated rather than respected and welcome; noise levels more appropriate to wine bars and pubs; and, worst of all, inconsistency in cooking, with a feeling of mass catering. The average life of such fashionable restaurants is likely to be short.

Latium_chefThis is where the adage about “small is beautiful” really does have relevance, especially to established restaurants like Latium, a high end Italian in Fitzrovia.  Located near the northern end of Berners Street – which itself has recently seen a large scale opening with a celebrity chef – Latium exemplifies all the benefits of a more modest operation. With a maximum of just 55 covers, guests feel personally welcome and benefit from efficient, knowledgeable service that is formal yet relaxed and friendly. It is overseen by the most accommodating restaurant manager Alex Trumcim and his charming deputy Rosanna, who is also the sommelier. The attractive menu is wide ranging and inventive but not so ambitious as to invite problems of delivery. It allows the highly skilled cooking to shine through, showing a consistency that has encouraged the mixed clientele of locals and those from further afield to return; indeed, Latium is now in its eleventh year of opening, a testament to its success.

Latium does not blow its own trumpet but has an understated ethos and serenity which add to its appeal. Guests can easily walk by its office like frontage without realising it is a restaurant. Inside, the stone tiled floor, white walls with large abstract food photographs, and well directed spotlighting make for a stylish, contemporary design. Tables dressed in fine napery, well controlled air conditioning and good acoustics which minimise noise levels, contribute to guest comfort. Diners near the far end can also view action in the kitchen through a large window.

Chatting with the warm and amiable Maurizio Morelli, chef patron (with Claudio Pulze), we were impressed by the passion and dedication he has lavished on his craft. His love of game cookery, and pride in his celebrated fish ravioli were clearly evident. Latium’s award from Restaurant Magazine’s UK Best Dishes – Pasta category – confirmed Maurizio’s excellence in this aspect of his repertoire. His distinguished CV includes spells at the Lanesborough and Halkin hotels before becoming head chef at “ibla Restaurant” in Marylebone, which gained a Bib Gourmand. Further experience continued with cooking at the Green Olive and acting as a consultant for the Red Pepper Group. Having cooked at Latium for eleven years, there is a sense of real enjoyment and contentment.

Maurizo’s cooking combines elements of traditional regional Italian cuisine – especially of his home region of Lazio – with innovative touches which enhance rather than overwhelm the clarity of flavour and beauty of presentation.  Seasonal ingredients, many sourced from Italy, are used to maximum effect. The timing of dishes is accurate, dishes are carefully seasoned and saucing shows a deft touch.

The main menu is well judged in terms of range and pricing. For instance, six anti pasti, five primi piatti (pasta / risotto), four secondi fish, and four secondi meat, is wide enough to promote choice, and not too excessive for a kitchen brigade of eight. A separate ravioli menu of five starters and five mains highlights Maurizo’s speciality for which he has gained national recognition.

Two courses at £29.50 or three for £35.50 constitute  a relative bargain by West End standards. There is also a well-priced, weekly changing set lunch menu at £16.50 for two courses (or £22.50 for three), which is also available for early evening

Fine Dining Guide visited on a midweek evening in June, finding much to appreciate in the food, wine and service

A generous set of nibbles arrived in the form of olives, buratta, salami, and light, fragrant olive oil. These were accompanied a basket of crisp breads, white rolls, olive bread and focaccia, baked on the premises. All were well rendered, the moist and well flavoured focaccia in particular having a good balance of salt and olive oil

The rest of the meal was left to the chef’s discretion, as we wanted to sample some signature dishes. These were paired with a fight of wines chosen from the  predominantly Italian list which was interesting and moderately priced.

Latium amuse

A highly inventive anti pasta dish featured a velvety smooth cold potato cream given a salty richness with ricotta, partnered by soft boiled quail’s eggs and a crisp tuile of mushroom risotto. These elements of differing tastes, temperatures and textures worked well together, being given a fragrant lift with the addition of summer black truffle. (Wine: Pinot Bianco doc La Prendina 2013 Lombardia,)

Latium tuna tartare

A second anti pasta dish saw a supremely fresh, succulent and precisely seasoned disc of tuna tartare topped with delicate salmon caviar and a rich mascarpone cream. This was balanced in texture and flavour with young, tender broad beans and fragrant pea shoots in a subtle dressing. (Wine: Frascati Superiore, Casale Marchese 2012 Lazio)

Latium mixed fish ravioli

Next came the piece de resistance: a selection of delicate fish ravioli – black, green, yellow and red. These comprised squid ink pasta filled with monkfish; spinach with brill and carrot; saffron with salmon and chives; and tomato with tuna and red pepper. Eaten in a specified order, the distinct flavours of each were clearly identifiable, the soft, melting pasta encasing generous amount of filling. The squid with monkfish and saffron with salmon were especially delicious. A light sauce and a dusting of sea bass bottarga – another inventive touch compared with the usual grey mullet or tuna preparations – brought the four appetising parcels of pasta together. Visually stunning, this labour intensive dish was a tour de force of imagination and creativity.  (Wine: Terlaner Classico, Cantina Terlano 2013 Alto Adige) 

Latium Oxtail ravioli

Equally accomplished was the ravioli of oxtail: delicate pasta shrouding rich meat dressed in a light jus flavoured with celery.

Latium pork belly and borlotti beans

A dish of eight hour roasted belly pork saw this highly fashionable cut cooked to perfection: the glazed soft skinned portion was succulent and meltingly tender, with the fat being well rendered. The richness of the meat was balanced by borlotti beans, both whole and in a puree, wilted spinach and roasted baby leeks, which also gave sweetness and textural contrast. A flavoursome sauce and grated salted ricotta – another unusual touch which lifted the dish – finished this generous, highly satisfying main course. (Wine: Adeo Bolgheri Rosso, Campo alla Sughera 2010 Toscana)

Latium dessert section

Finally, a highly creative dessert added a fun element to the menu. Piped mounds of rich but not overly sweet white chocolate mousse were interspersed with strawberry puree and mint coulis, giving the colours of the Italian flag.

Latium Italian flag popcorn

Caramelised popcorn provided a balancing light crispness, whilst a dusting of liquorice power added a hint of aniseed flavour. (Wine: Visciolata del Cardinale, Cabernet Sauvignon with wild cherries)

Good expresso with excellent homemade truffles and biscotti completed a memorable meal, enhanced by the seamless, unobtrusive service.

Overall, it is clear why Latium has survived the rigours of a highly competitive and ruthless restaurant world. The virtues of finely tuned, deferential service, which might seem old fashioned but still has its place, are undeniable.  Equally important is the consistently high quality of the food, which reflects a cooking style which is adaptable but retains the integrity of its Italian roots. The price point also reflects outstanding value for money. Fine Dining Guide will return to this gem of a restaurant to sample other delights such as the tempting fish main courses and the sweet ravioli, confident in the knowledge it will be there for many years to come.

Hansel Henson: Protecting the Brand – Trade Marks (July 2014)

Posted on: July 9th, 2014 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

In the first of three articles for Fine Dining Guide, leading London intellectual property lawyers Hansel Henson discuss the ways in which restaurant owners and chefs can protect their enterprises through the use of trade marks, and how these can be used to strengthen commercial relationships and enhance public awareness of restaurants, brands and chefs alike.

A recent survey by Hansel Henson of the UK’s top 20 fine dining establishments shows that less than half have adequate registered trade mark protection for their restaurant name. In other words, less than half are properly protecting their brand!

That’s a startling statistic and is very unusual in the general hospitality sector.  Brand savvy operators of mid-market and quick-service restaurants would not dream of leaving themselves so defenceless – and nor would most suppliers.  Indeed, the first and oldest registered trade mark, registered in 1876, is for the Bass beer red triangle label.

Protected since 1876. UK Registered Trade Mark Number 1

Protected since 1876. UK Registered Trade Mark Number 1

Why are fine dining restaurants failing to protect themselves?  This is particularly strange given the relatively modest cost of trade mark registration.  The problem seems to be that many fine dining restaurateurs think that their restaurant name is not a trade mark.

On the contrary, a trade mark is any sign capable of being represented graphically, which distinguishes the goods and services of one supplier from another, serving as a designation of origin. The sign must be unique for the goods and services offered.  So, any restaurant operating under a distinctive name or other sign has a brand capable of protection through registration.

Registering a trade mark brings a number of benefits:

  • Registration gives comfort that the trade mark is usable by the owners.
  • Owners can take action against those who infringe their trade marks. Compared to other forms of IP protection (such as the tort of ‘passing off’) this offers a powerful safeguard.
  • Owners can prevent others from registering social media and domain name handles, if the Owners’ mark would be infringed.
  • Owners can put licensing deals in place with third parties, opening up commercial opportunities.

Many big name chefs and restaurants have protected themselves by registering trade marks including Heston Blumenthal, Jamie Oliver and Raymond Blanc.  This prevents others from using their brand names and facilitates deals to promote anything from sauces and crockery to hotels and DVDs. Top restaurants like Copenhagen’s Noma, London’s Le Gavroche and the now-globetrotting Momofuku group have all obtained protection across Europe to prevent others from capitalising upon or compromising the hard earned goodwill associated with their brand.


If you find yourself on the banks of the River Thames and see a sign for “The Waterside”, then you might want to see if you can get a table.  You might be tempted by “our signature dish ‘Ironed Chicken’”

CGL (the former Conran restaurant business) owns over 30 UK registered trade marks, from ‘Quaglinos’ to ‘Paternoster Chop House’.  For each restaurant, CGL generally keep things tight (and costs down) with single class applications covering their core restaurant activities for the UK only.  Each registered mark lasts for 10 years before being renewed, and together these trade marks must form a significant part of the value of the CGL chain.


Well kept London Pride and Thai Food await customers of the Latymers in Hammersmith

Chefs can also use trade mark protection for licensing deals, for example as Gordon Ramsay has done with Royal Doulton.  Chefs, whether Michelin starred or not, may also license their brand in more subtle ways such as consulting and putting their names on the menus for less formal restaurants, cafés or pubs. The new establishment benefits from the goodwill flowing from the chef’s brand, while the chef is paid a fixed fee or royalties.


Licensing on a plate – both “Gordon Ramsay” and “Maze” are registered trade marks.

Trade mark protection is generally quick and cheap to obtain. Each country around the World has its own trade mark registry, with searches of the relevant register allowing prospective owners to check whether a particular proposed mark is registrable before making an application. Once registered, the trade mark gives the property owner exclusivity and can be rolled out internationally. Trade marks can be renewed every ten years and, as with the Bass device, the protection can be maintained indefinitely.

As well as words (such as the names of a restaurant or chef), food industry leaders have successfully registered trade mark protection for the shape of their products or the colours which define their brand. Courts have ruled that the public see the lines of the Coca-Cola bottle or Toblerone chocolate as a badge of origin and so too the particular shade of orange used by Veuve Clicquot Champagne. But these are examples involving iconic brands and the attempts of many others to register shapes and colours have failed.


There are establishments called Hibiscus everywhere from Cagliari to New Jersey!

Leaving aside the potential difficulties in registering more niche marks described above, it is astonishing how few chefs take the basic precaution of obtaining trade mark protection to ensure that their name, their restaurant’s and other key elements of their brand are protected. The significance of this came to light in 2012, as Gordon Ramsay Holdings International applied for trade mark registration of “The Spotted Pig” in the UK.

This application was reportedly met with outrage by others in the industry, including Jamie Oliver and Anthony Bourdain, as it is also the name of a successful Michelin-starred gastropub in New York, established in 2004 by British chef April Bloomfield. However, Gordon Ramsay Holdings International soon transferred the newly registered mark to the owners of the “The Spotted Pig”. Restaurants lacking such powerful friends, or dealing with less scrupulous people, may not be so lucky.

Had there been a fight over the ownership of “Spotted Pig” in the UK then the New York owners would have been in a weak position legally. Without a registered trade mark in the United Kingdom, they would have been forced to file an opposition to the application, and give evidence of a reputation and customer base here in the UK.  Many restaurants have a localised trade and will not be able to satisfy the test.  So, when Pepsico first attempted to launch Taco Bell in Sydney’s Bondi, the locally based owners of a Mexican restaurant called Taco Bell Casa got an injunction against Pepsico, forcing a rebrand.


Your IP rights over here, will not necessarily protect you over there!  Trade marks are territorial .  Photo Hai Linh Truong

The registration of a trade mark in any emerging market is a simple procedure that is effective in preventing others benefitting from or tarnishing a restaurant’s name. In 2011 a restaurant called The Fat Duck was opened in Sydney’s Darling Harbour. Having registered the name as a trade mark in Australia, Heston Blumenthal was able to quickly compel the Sydney restaurant’s proprietors to change the name of their restaurant and to cease using the words “fat duck” on their menus.

If a restaurant does not have registered trade mark protection, then only where it has became a destination in itself, attracting an international clientele, can it be successful in enforcing IP rights within its customers’ territories. The famous Venetian Hotel Cipriani was able to compel the well known Mayfair establishment ‘Cipriani London’ to change its name to ‘C London’, despite being based outside of the UK.

Cipriani to C

After hugely expensive litigation, Mayfair’s Cipriani London now goes by the name “C London”.

Some of the other benefits of trade marks will be discussed further in the second and third articles in this series, where we look first at protecting dishes and culinary skills and then licensing.


Branding and marketing a business in the 21st century is a time and energy consuming affair, and this is no less the case for high end restaurants. Given the passion, effort and skill that chefs and restaurateurs expend to provide a superior offering, it is only right that this is properly rewarded, and that a hard built reputation is properly protected.

For a single class UK trade mark application we currently charge £450 in professional fees together with a £170 government filing fee.  For a three class application covering the whole of the European Community, the application cost is £700 plus a EURO 900 government filing fee.

For more information about trade marks and all forms of Intellectual Property law, please contact Hansel Henson on either 020 7307 5145 or by email to

© 2014 Hansel Henson Limited. All rights reserved.  HANSEL HENSON is a registered trade mark of Hansel Henson Limited.  The rights of other trade mark holders named in this article are acknowledged.

Whilst every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this educational article please let us know of any errors or omissions.  Please also let us know if you are the owner of the copyright in any of the imagery appearing in this article and would like us to remove it.

Whatley Manor: Relais & Chateaux Dinner (June 2014)

Posted on: July 5th, 2014 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Whatley Manor Exterior

Some of the luxury country house hotels around Britain offer a rather different arrival from Whatley Manor.  Walking through the door at Whatley, the sense of warmth of welcome, a disarming charm and relaxing feel pervade immediately.  Gone is perhaps the stuffiness, the slightly intimidating sensation set within the context of hapless disorganisation which permeates through certain similar retreats of type.

Whatley Manor was originally built in the 18th century and for over a hundred years known as Twatley Farm.  By 1987 the property was taking guests and Swiss couple, Marco and Alix Landolt (while their son was competing at the nearby Badminton Horse Trials) stayed at the property.  So impressed were they, that in 2000 they acquired the property, restored and painstakingly brought it back to its former glory, opening as the Whatley Manor we know and love today on July 1st 2003. The manor house remains a Grade 2 listed building and is set in twelve acres of gardens.

So it is a deceptively young resort, having just celebrated its 11th birthday.  This is at odds with the feel of a sense of history as well as those elusive sensations of peace and tranquility.  One might suggest that the owners philosophy, including their shrewd choices in general manager (there have only been two) that must take a great deal of credit for the serene identity and prolonged success of Whatley Manor.  Peter Egli (now departed for Switzerland) was at the helm for ten years and emphasized (at interview) the need for a ‘personal touch,’ like a home away from home.  Peter also believed in empowering staff to develop in their chosen direction with the lightest touch of a guiding hand.  This must have worked well as many staff display great length of stay with many celebrating five and ten year anniversaries of their own during 2014.  Whatley Manor enjoys a combination of factors which, Peter argued, made an overall unique in the world – a beautiful spa, extensive gardens, award winning restaurant and in-house cinema, with guests in 23 rooms looked after by 65 staff.

Indeed on the restaurant side Whatley Manor boasts another shrewd acquisition: Martin Burge.  Martin worked extensively for John Burton Race during the latter’s heyday at L’Ortolan and The Landmark.  In fact, it was Martin that moved with John to set up the restaurant at The Landmark where they successfully retained the accolades and achieved two Michelin stars in just one year.  After (quietly) arriving at Whatley Manor’s dining room, Martin Burge’s team was awarded one Michelin star in 2005 and a second in 2010.  The ‘Dining Room’ remains at the forefront of British gastronomy and a leader in its field.

The new encumbent general manager is Gurval Durand: Formerly deputy general manager to (the great) Philip Newman-Hall at The Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Gurval has quickly begun to stamp his personality, energy and desire on Whatley Manor.


At interview Gurval (above left with Martin Burge and above right with restaurant manager Silviu Dinu) discussed some important aspects of the philosophy of Relais & Chateaux as well as his vision for the property moving forward.

How do you see the past present and future of Whatley Manor in the context of Relais & Chateaux.  “This is a good question as appreciating the past, the history of Relais & Chateaux, is important to the present and future of any members participation in the association:  The spirit of the original la route du bonheur and the ideals of the fledgling association must always be referenced, remembered and respected.

In the present you each have to add your personal touch, bring your uniqueness into play, all the while within the framework so well expressed by Relais & Chateaux. For the future, all members play a vital role and are offered to give something back – it is a pure two-way democracy.  At Whatley Manor, along with all our colleagues, we share the values and passions of the association, which allows each member to bring something special and unique to our customers.”

What is your vision for Whatley Manor?  “My vision for Whatley Manor is to build on a strong eleven years, which has been based upon the philosophy of inviting someone into a relaxing home away from home.  Whatley Manor must continue to become a destination of choice for both national and international customers.  There is also a mix of clientele coming, with different durations of stay, which we must adapt to on an on-going basis.  While we may have been under the radar of a number of potential guests, awareness and profile will continue to improve as we explore mechanisms to achieve our goals.

People will retreat here to relax and dine with a gastronomic experience.  The award winning spa, the cinema and garden offers the chance to relax completely.  In addition, we have quintessentially English villages around us – Malmesbury, Tetbury and Cirencester.  We must continue to strive to get the message of our world class offering to the appropriate audience as effectively as possible.”


So on the 7th June 2014, fine dining guide was invited to attend the Relais & Chateaux 60th Anniversary celebration dinner.  A menu, especially prepared by Martin Burge and his team, expertly coupled with wine by Andrea Domenicucci proved a great success. To further mark the occasion, a cake was prepared by head pastry chef Lee Bamforth (see above).

Throughout the meal the common threads of depth of flavour, lightness of touch, deft timing and impeccable presentation pervaded.  As a fresh approach to review writing, the analysis of each dish below has kindly been provided by Martin Burge, head chef at Whatley Manor.  One hopes this provides a unique insight into a strong Michelin two star chef’s thinking when preparing and analysing his dishes.

WhatleyRelais_Cannelloni of mackeral

Cannelloni of Mackerel served with Oyster Crème fraiche and compressed cucumber.  The oyster crème fraiche, cucumber jelly and compressed cucumber provide a fresh approach whilst the mackerel adds depth.


English Asparagus Dressed with textures of mushrooms, hazelnut, warm parmesan and deep fried quails eggs. Our aim was to reverse the classic dish of asparagus, poached egg  and hollandaise. We made the asparagus cold, poached quails eggs and deep fried them to get a crispy texture. The parmesan espuma replaces the classic hollandaise sauce and the chilled hazelnut sherbet adds another dimension in terms of temperature.


Native Lobster (2 persons) Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef Dinner 2013 topped with mango and coconut, served with a lightly Thai consommé.  I wanted to bring this dish back for the 60th Relais & Châteaux anniversary having first served the dish at the Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef Dinner 2013.  The theatre style presentation, at the table makes up for the initial simplicity of the dish on first glance.

By no means is this dish simple to make; for example the lobster is presented in various ways on the plate. There are two parts to making the consommé, there is also the wonton and a lobster mousse.


Squab Pigeon poached and roasted, Dressed with foie gras cassonade, pomme soufflé and Pedro Ximenez sauce. Making a foie gras cassonade gives this dish a lighter approach. Young turnips are introduced to give a bitter sweet combination to the Pedro Ximenez sauce and the Pedro Ximenez gel. The earthy flavour from the pigeon brings all the elements together.


Pre-dessert: Blackberry and apple espuma.  When you combine the sharpness of the apple with the sweetness of the blackberry the end result is a refreshing, rounded flavour.

Banana Panna Cotta, Passionfruit Granite and Lycee Sorbet.  The sharpness of the passionfruit cuts through the perfume of the lychee. The banana panna cotta bridges the gap between the two.


WhatleyRelais_White chocolate sphere

White Chocolate Sphere Filled with Pistachio kirsch mousse and compote of cherries.  Each element is simple but when you put them together there is theatre. White chocolate was chosen because it works so well with the summer season for example summer berries. In this case I combined it with an initial layer of kirsch mousse and a second layer of pistachio and a very thin third layer of chocolate. The whole sphere is made of white chocolate which can tend to be quite sickly but we have adjusted the chocolate to give a lighter flavour and also an even thinner texture. Not one component dominates the other, yet they combine well together. A quenelle of pistachio ice cream adds another dimension.

In all a marvelous evening and a fitting tribute by a great team to a great institution.  We left fully satisfied.  Service was professional, efficient while unobtrusive.  We were greeted upon arrival and waved off into the night by the very welcoming Eloise Gordon (Sales & Marketing Manager) and we will be sure to return!

Restaurant Review: Peyote, Mayfair, London. June 2014

Posted on: July 2nd, 2014 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood


Despite the popularity of Mexican food in the UK, it has spawned few restaurants seeking to cater for a fine dining clientele. Peyote, restaurant and bar, located on Cork Street just north of Burlington Arcade, is one rare example. Launched in November 2013, proprietor Tarun Mahrotri has partnered with Eduardo Garcia, (previously of Maximo Bistro, Mexico City), on menu composition, and worked with Head Chef Hili Sharabani, (who has worked at Buddha Bar Knightsbridge and Nobu Park Lane), to produce an innovative menu that mixes tradition with contemporary influences.

Fine Dining Guide visited Peyote on a Thursday evening in May. The gravitational pull of the sizeable crowd spilling onto the street, soon had us headed in the right direction. Inside we found the lighting set to low, as the music to high, appropriate to what seemed to be a bar come dining area in which we were seated. A DJ Booth occupying one corner sealed the impression that Peyote seeks to serve a broad church, from relaxed diners to hardened tequila aficionados.

We were later to discover that the basement level of the restaurant, which includes the Chef’s table and Taco Bar, lends itself as a very different option for dining. Brighter, more spacious, and away from the hustle and (sometimes) overbearing music of the bar, the tables are afforded a great view into the open kitchen, and enjoy a more serene environment.

The menu is extensive. A number of elements demonstrated a pan-Latin influence, for example a selection of Ceviches. Others were faithful classics such as Tostadas, Tacos and Quesadillas. All of the dishes seemed to promise the sort of fresh, vibrant flavours we were hoping for.

Given the Mexican obsession with Tequila, a definite highlight is the cocktail menu; which boasts a range of expertly blended tipples. The staple, the Margarita (of course), is a perfect harmony of sweet, saltiness and acidity – but for the more adventurous there is plenty else to choose from. There is also a carefully curated range of tequilas, although one can’t help but feel these are wasted on the uninitiated such as us.

Our first foray exploring the menu took in a smooth and velvety Guacamole, bursting with pungent undertones of garlic and chilli. This was accompanied by a quintuple of salsas, ordered by Scoville scale according to the level of heat.  Thankfully, even the hottest of the lot, the habanero, was perfectly palatable.

Other dishes we had to start included the Yellow Tail Laminados (think Sashimi, but with creamy avocado puree in place of the wasabi), the wonderfully unadulterated Tuna Tostados, and the star of the show, the Prawn Ceviche. The Ceviche was a joy, boasting prawns that were fat and succulent from soaking up the flavours of lime, chilli and coriander. Every mouthful managed to be both full of flavour and a palate cleanser all in one.

Peyote Starters

From the fresh clean flavours of the first set of dishes, we moved on to sample some of the signature Tacos. These were surprising restrained in terms of heat; however this allowed the subtlety of flavours to really stand out. The Pork Pibil – a speciality of Yucatán State – was meltingly soft, with a beautifully piquant sauce, and if cooked in the traditional way, both coloured and flavoured by the addition of annatto seeds. The fish taco demonstrated further delicateness of flavour and careful handling of ingredients, being cooked to perfection, with slightly caramelised outer edges and a soft, mouth-watering middle.

For the main course we sampled both the Rib Eye and Chilean Sea Bass. The meat was expertly cooked, being enhanced by a sweetness derived from careful charring and the selection of a well-marbled cut.  The accompanying borracha (chilli) salsa, augmented with tequila, was yet another example of careful flavour control and a tendency by the kitchen to let the delicate flavours of the ingredients stand out. The fish was similarly well delivered, cooked to be soft and translucent; this was accompanied by a deliciously tangy pineapple and coriander sauce.

Peyote mains_edited-1

The freshness and simplicity of flavours on the menu makes saving room for dessert somehow seem easy. Of course, one of the delights of Mexico is the abundant Churros. These are soft doughnut like sticks that are perfectly shaped for dunking in chocolate, cinnamon or sugar. Peyote does this Mexican street food full justice, conjuring up soft, light strips of dough, encased in a moreish, crisp shell. The smell alone is worthy of being bottled to make scented candles. The chocolate sauce that accompanies the churros is warm and gooey and perfectly geared up for dunking. The only problem is that one serving is never likely to be sufficient! We also sampled Hibiscus cheesecake. This was a traditional vanilla cheesecake, but was given a transformational lift by the addition of sweet and aromatic hibiscus granite – although perhaps not an authentic Mexican recipe, this certainly seemed a harmonious addition to the menu.

Although much of the offering at Peyote will be familiar to those who have enjoyed Mexican food in a more casual setting, the restaurant does offer a more sophisticated twist, which is particularly exemplified by the subtlety and delicate flavouring of the cooking. Less than one year old, Peyote has already attracted a well-heeled clientele, and not just from the bright young things of Mayfair. Fine Dining Guide will follow its progress with interest.