It is another sweltering day in London and even the impeccable pinstriped-suits and dainty designer dresses that adorn the people thronging Piccadilly are looking decidedly creased and dishevelled.
But then we turn a corner out of the crowds and are met with a glorious floral vision. For tucked behind Green Park station is the May Fair Kitchen and its façade is ablaze with pink flowers.
This is the new sister venue to the already established Leicester Square and Monmouth Kitchens. They are all doyennes of the sharing plate – which is not to everyone’s taste (all that dividing the final prawn into four business). But they are also courageous and inventive when it comes to food. The Leicester Square Kitchen offers a combination of Mexican and Peruvian dishes; the Monmouth, Italian and Peruvian.
And from October, the brand is expanding to Manchester with the opening of the Peter Street Kitchen which will be a mix of Mexican and Japanese.
At the May Fair Kitchen we are promised the best of those cuisines, with Spanish thrown in for good measure. And it’s fair to say we are a tad overwhelmed by the thought of such a smorgasbord.
An oasis of cool
But we are soon distracted when we are led up some stairs for a sun downer. For the May Fair Kitchen boasts a wonderful secret: a huge terrace. Despite the fact a rather large party was gathering for a private bash at one end, the place was beautifully intimate. And the large gin and tonics worked wonders to cool our sweaty brows.
Then it was to our table to face our very ‘international’ meal. The restaurant itself is decked out in the currently requisite décor of bare light bulbs, stark copper piping and thick, bare wooden tables – the starkness of which completely belies the warmth of the staff and the service.
As for our fears about the food, they are allayed the minute we open the menu and our mouths start watering. One page is devoted to Italian fare (the gorgonzola and spinach gnocchi in a parmesan crisp bowl is so delicious we devour it in venerable silence); another to Spanish (the chilli panko tiger prawns and jamon and manchego croquettas are to die for); and then there is a nod to Mexico and Peru (think spice-rich tacos and clean, sharp ceviche).
Everything was cooked to perfection; the ingredients fresh; the portion sizes generous enough to prevent plate-division stress; and the flavours far subtler and complementary than one might imagine – a global fiesta for the palate.
And so we rejoin the sticky night with happy hearts and stomachs that have truly been won over.