In the neighbourhood, but looking to splash out? Try Trishna on for size.
If you want to cast the net a bit wider, we've got plenty of gems on our best restaurants in London guide.
What is it?
With seven years of Anglo – a quietly beloved contemporary British restaurant in Farringdon – under his belt, chef Mark Jarvis has aced the ‘elevated casual’ thing. Known for his fairly-priced tasting menus and zealous championing of British produce, Jarvis has cultivated a reputation as a skilled chef with strong vision – even if that vision (leveraging locally-sourced ingredients in creative dishes that pay credence to British tastes) is somewhat ubiquitous throughout London’s dining scene.
1771 is the next evolution of his vision – offering both a tasting menu and an à la carte option, it feels like Jarvis has set himself a daily recurring challenge: can he ensure the food stays consistently delicious across both menus? It’s a fine balancing act and a stress test for the chef’s skill and imagination, and on our visit, he absolutely romped through it. The restaurant’s side-street setting south of Sloane Square – a hinterland between Chelsea and Belgravia – and pin-drop quiet dining room (despite being full when we were there) all feels very contained and devoid of buzz, belying the magic happening in the kitchen.
But that’s not to say this isn’t a good-looking restaurant. Quite the opposite: it’s got to have one of the best-designed dining rooms we’ve seen of late. Rattan chairs, golden hues, and large pampas grass arrangements manage to nail California Modern without a hint of cliché. Lights are low and candle light is abundant – it’s ideal for a particularly spicy date, or a fairly intimate catch-up between two friends.
The fact that 1771 hasn’t been a massive buzz-generator so far isn’t a terrible thing – it means that spending an evening here makes you feel like you’ve stumbled on something special. Go for the six-course tasting menu – a steal at £68 per person, with a cheaper four-course option if you don’t want to go whole hog – and settle in for several hours of thoughtful, finely-tuned cooking. You’ll start with a selection of leftfield snacks that set a high standard for deliciousness – for example, cubes of celeriac tartare studding a tiny ant hill of mushroom parfait, sprinkled with crunchy quinoa and flagpoled with three tiny mushrooms. It’s a strange-looking specimen, at once elegant and aggressively earthy, but it works. The rest of the meal proceeds like this, carefully balancing straight-from-the-soil flavours with an elevated sensibility. Jarvis’ high-wire act is one of the best shows in town. Get here before everyone else catches on and the circus starts.
What should I eat?
Ever heard of cauliflower mushroom? It’s a variety of fungus, apparently – an absurdly juicy, delicious one, served here with a tempura-like coating and a creamy mushroom custard over a pesto-y wild rocket reduction. There’s a lot going on, but it all comes together beautifully, anchored by that wildly tasty mushroom slab.
The vegetarian main on our visit was a parsnip dish, each piece totally caramelised and sweet all the way through. It’s served with a miso beurre blanc and splattered with a brassica reduction to keep things from tipping too far to the sweet end – though it’s so tasty, we’d happily eat it as a main or dessert.
The dessert, a dense chocolate cake, summed everything up nicely. Served with an apple puree and parsnip ice cream, it incorporated all the elements you want in a dessert: bracingly fresh, rich and chocolatey, and surprising all at the same time.
Why should I go?
To see an underrated chef cook at what may be his highest potential.
18-22 Holbein Place, SW1W 8NL