It’s said that dining at The Lyttelton at The Stafford by Kempinski in London’s Mayfair is more akin to dining at a friend’s house. It’s certainly cosy and comfortable, but with rich floral fabrics, unique artwork, a custom crafted chandelier, vast flower arrangements, and a gorgeous fireplace, it’s likely far more luxurious than nine out of 10 British homes, rivalling even those in Mayfair. The restaurant is named after the Lord and Lady that resided in the property from the 18th century until 1849, but despite the rich heritage, executive chef Brendan Fyldes, formerly of Northcote Manor and Bentley’s, has drifted away from ultra formal dining in favour of a casual, albeit it elegant menu of primarily British dishes.
After being welcomed with a glass of champagne – impeccable service is guaranteed – my dining companion and I feasted on a selection of homemade breads, one of which has a rich honey flavour, and scoured the quite vast menu. My fellow culinary adventurer selected West Coast scallops with spiced cauliflower, homemade black pudding and a Chablis dressing; while I requested the crispy courgette flowers with goat’s cheese curd, honey and black papper. The scallops were, as anticipated, expertly cooked – you wouldn’t expect anything less from a chef with such exceptional credentials and a thoroughly impressive resumé; and the traditional flavour combinations were, as ever, a winner.
My courgette flowers came laid on a slate board and looked spectacular. As I cut into them the sour goat’s cheese oozed out. Unfortunately, it was significantly more runny than I anticipated and the slate board was rather narrow, so consuming the courgette flowers without making a mess proved quite a challenge. Nevertheless, the courgettes were fabulously fresh, crispy, and the sour cheese a lovely accompaniment. If the slate was double the size or they were served on any type of larger dish, it would make the eating experience significantly better.
Next came the main courses. My dining companion opted for the grilled Dexter rib eye; while I had the veal Holstein schnitzel served with a fried duck’s egg, capers and anchovies; and we share some hand cut chips (noteworthy of a special mention), buttered carrots, and a mix of broad beans, peas and ham. As ever, the classic steak is expertly cooked, tender, and boasts excellent flavour – but that’s what you get from eating quality meat cooked by a highly competent chef. The veal was not disappointing either, but it was interesting. The portion of veal was huge. The use of the duck egg was pleasing. However, the white anchovies that framed the egg’s yolk was a slightly odd decorative arrangement. However, the saltiness of the campers and anchovies, with the delicate meat and creamy egg was an excellent union of flavours.
A brief reprieve was required before continuing on our culinary adventure, so we headed down to the wine cellar to get a taste of the building’s rich history. Much like wine merchant’s Berry Brothers, situated just down the road, the building has a vast underground cellar, ideal for storing wine, and a few rooms that make a wonderful venue for an intimate party.
To finish I selected a burnt Cambridge cream – or crème brûlée – which came in a shallow dish and was excellent if a little bit generous in size; the same could be said of my dining companion’s chocolate mousse but it was still a delight, thick, dark, slightly bitter – everything a chocolate mousse should be.
Throughout the meal we indulged in a bottle of Firefinch 2011, a South African Sauvignon Blanc with fabulous citrus notes and excellent crispness, as well as a glass of rich vintage 1999 port over dessert.
While the choice of slate for my starter, and slightly odd arrangement of the anchovies around the egg yolk in my main course were somewhat distracting, the overall night was fantastic. The service really was impeccable. The classic dishes were by far the greatest triumph. The surroundings were rather special and visiting the wine cellar truly topped off the evening.
The Lyttelton at The Stafford by Kempinski
James’s Place, London SW1A 1NJ
Tel: 020 7493 0111