Jason Atherton’s take on the best meal of the week at Berners Tavern.
To say that Berners Tavern is visually impressive has got to be the most gross understatement of the year. It is immense, sumptuous, opulent and amazingly cosy all at once. The dining room immediately has the feel of a stately home, and its walls and ceilings are so high that if the patrons wished to hire the Cirque de Soleil for an exclusive performance, you could almost imagine flamboyant trapeze artists soaring above you as you ate (and they would still be hard put to steal the show from the native beauty of the décor itself.)
Berners Tavern’s walls are gloriously adorned with a plethora of gilt-edged art alongside dark brown modern frames that defy the word “busy” by somehow captivating the eye with a symmetry akin to a lovechild spawned from a Mondrian patchwork and a Minecraft/Tetris dreamscape. Stunning, and this alongside beautiful intricate Stucco plasterwork and two large custom bronze chandeliers inspired by NYC’s Grand Central Station leave us agog with adoration as soon as we lay eyes upon the place.
We take a seat at the lengthy bar to imbibe a drink or two before our three course roast and are greeted by an inventive cocktail menu alongside an extensive offering of spirits and wines. My partner has the 2500 Raspberry Tarts (gin, Chambord, raspberries, egg white and double cream), whilst I plump for a glass of Champagne delivered to me via a charming Champagne trolley that is effortlessly and speedily whisked around the bar area by one of the very knowledgeable and friendly staff here. Both go down a treat as we eagerly await the culinary delights about to be served to us courtesy of Phil Carmichael – executive chef under the lauded wing of Jason Atherton himself.
The new Sunday roast experience here at Berners Tavern offers Atherton’s take on a quintessentially British tradition and will be changing in guise every week. Once we are seated (sadly not in one of the resplendent mohair and leather banquettes – there’s always the next time though) we are delighted to see that Beef Wellington is the main show-stopper this week. Perfect!
Now, as a matter of course, we are wont to choose different items from the menu as we both sadly suffer from food envy. Sharing each others’ dishes usually sates this embarrassing affliction, however on this occasion we are surprisingly unified in our choices, and both main and starter jump out at us as the “must haves” of the day. These are the crispy duck egg, spelt and pearl barley risotto with crispy ham and the afore mentioned Beef Wellington.
We both make ‘googly eyes’ at our dishes as the crispy duck egg with risotto arrives. It is a wonderful take on a scotch egg served atop the risotto – the egg perfectly cooked with a deliciously slightly runny yolk, the risotto splendidly creamy, with the rice having just the right amount of bite to it. The Beef Wellington most certainly hits the mark as well, this perennial dish also cooked to utter perfection; the pastry crisp on the outside, with a little give on the inside and the beef oh so tender and just on the right side of medium rare. The main also comes with a selection of sides including roast potatoes and the slightly quirky but delicious tender stem broccoli, cheddar and almond crumble.
We wash our meal down with the kindly sommelier’s recommendation of Montes Alpha Carmenère, a red which of course accompanied the beef perfectly. If this isn’t all enough already, as we sample this delectable fare, I smile to myself at the accompanying soundtrack as one of my favourite Dizzy Gillespie songs, Matrix, washes over us and most certainly enhances my experience – good taste abounds!
For pudding we go our separate ways again, my partner has the coffee and chocolate choux bun, and I, the pistachio and cherry parfait… hellooo, foodie heaven. As we sit here having finished our meal, we really don’t want to say goodbye to this marvellous venue, so we’ll be back for more soon. Take us on our word and go book a table yourselves… now!
www.bernerstavern.com Berners Street, London W1