Fortnum & Mason was founded over three centuries ago, and is as synonymous with British luxury as Harrods, James Bond and Ascot, perhaps even the Royal Family - incidentally, William Fortnum began his career as a grocer as footman to Queen Anne. Their Christmas hampers and tea room are the stuff of legends, but it wasn't until recently that they launched a standalone full-service restaurant, which more than lives up to the long and regal reputation established by Fortnum & Mason over the past 300 years.
The dining room dishes up old school glamour in spades. Blending the signature turquoise and dusty pink colour scheme with burnt sienna banquettes and booths, art deco bankers lamps and wall sconces, as well as dark herringbone parquet flooring and ceiling moulding that would bring a tear to your geometry teacher's eye, there's a whiff of Casablanca or Gone With the Wind in the experience. This impression is compounded by the experience of having a caviar trolley wheeled over to the table, where scales are presented to weigh your choice of Siberian Sturgeon, Iranian Beluga or Golden Oscietra, which is then served with blinis, potatoes, scrambled eggs and sour cream.
We began our meal, however, with some crusty soda bread and dressed Dorset crab. The brown meat was intermixed with a dash of Worscestershire sauce and mustard, then topped with flaky white meat and egg and cheese on the top, all served on friable little crostini. In addition to this, we had an almost obscenely creamy burrata served with roasted aubergines and drizzled with an astringent black olive dressing.
For our mains we enjoyed gnocchi, which was presented in a rather novel way, the potato flour rolled until it was long and thin, steamed and studded with juicy artichokes and tomatoes. However, the piece de resistance was the Dover Sole a la Meunière, filleted tableside off the bone and served in the famous buttery, luxuriant sauce. On the side we enjoyed steamed cavolo nero and baked courgettes cooked thin and layered with tomato sauce and parmesan in a manner that recalled aubergine parmigiana.
Dessert was one of 45 Jermyn Street's strongest suits. An eminently classy piña colada coupet blended coconut and pineapple sorbet with rum. Suffice to say, it wasn't long for the dinner table. A tarte tatin was classically accomplished with warm, caramel-rich apples fanned out like a rosette on a fine, finessed pastry. We were deeply satisfied.
45 Jermyn Street, like Fortnum & Mason, is a grown-up, self-assured gastrodome focusing on the finer things in life, and perfectly suited for business meetings, dates and catching up with your parents.