Quaglino's blazes a new trail in St James
Category : Restaurant
| Cuisine : Modern European
Address : 16 Bury Street , Mayfair, London, SW1Y 6AJ, UNITED KINGDOM - Directions
Web : www.quaglinos-restaurant.co.uk
Opening Times : Mon-Thurs 12pm-1am, Fri-Sat 12pm-3pm & 5.30pm-3am
Closest Tube : Green Park
Private Dining Room : Details
Quaglino's is indubitably one of the most iconic restaurants in the Capital, having led a life that spans nearly a century and is worthy of a novel. Its origins can be traced back to the heady days of 1929, just before Black Friday, when it was founded by Giovanni Quaglino, an Italian emigrant with a penchant for impeccable service. By 1935, the fame of his restaurant was assured, having earned the admiration of luminaries as diverse as the Prince of Wales, the Mountbattens and Evelyn Waugh.
Since then it has attracted a famous coterie from almost every epoch, including Judy Garland, who celebrated her marriage in the restaurant. In 1993 it was relaunched by the Conran Group, quickly becoming a popular destination for Princess Diana, Gwyneth Paltrow, Brian Ferry, George Michael and Kanye West. Now, it has undergone a multimillion-pound restoration, reinventing itself once more for post-millennial London. Having had a taste of its culinary and cultural brilliance, we can wholeheartedly recommend Quaglino's.
The modern interior has been given a redesign by Russell Sage Studio, darkening the room for a sexier, more atmospheric ambience, yet retaining its Art Deco elegance. The signature sweeping staircase, mezzanine, main restaurant and bar have all been painstakingly redone, with all of the touches that make for a five star experience, including striking designer uniforms for the staff and especially the hostesses - trading on the legacy of the cigarette girls celebrated during the restaurant's past.
We took our seats downstairs not far away from the stage, which has been handsomely finished and later played host to rising chanteuse Lucy Rose, who accompanied the end of our meal with soft and folksy tunes. We were immediately struck by two things. The first was the comfort of the velvet chairs, some of the most luxurious that we've experienced as of late, while the second was the service, which proceeded with an almost martial precision and never missed a beat.
The cuisine is exactly what you'd expect at a venue of this calibre - dishes with big flavours and expensive ingredients. Of our starters, one of our favourites was the Clarence Court duck egg, cooked at the magic temperature of 63 degrees, which renders the yolk and white the same texture, with baby leeks positioned in a triangle to hold it in place, smatterings of salsify and a delicious truffle crumb. However, the starter that really activated our salivary glands was the seared yellowfin tuna, with a tangy lotus crisp, pickled mouli and a yuzu and grapefruit dressing.
Moving on to the mains, one of our favourites was the Highland red deer, its slight gaminess offset by sweet parsnip puree and red cabbage, immersed in a grand veneur huntsman's sauce. A turbot steak was a sumptuous treat, a golden tranche served piping hot with brown shrimp béarnaise on the side, but make sure you request it deboned unless you're a professional at filleting fish. We brought our meal to an indulgent close with Valrhona chocolate fondant with crème crue.
Quaglino's has certainly hit its stride and will surely retain its legacy as one of the most celebrated and grand restaurants in the West End. It's a welcome addition as central London tends to lack salubrious venues with live music, and with a 3am food license you'll be well taken care of throughout the evening. Prince Harry has already visited it, already staking it out as a zeitgeist-worthy venue for the post-millennial generation.