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My friend Paul and I save regularly to go to good restaurants, places we wouldn’t normally be able to afford. We’ve been to Gordon Ramsey at Royal Hospital Road a couple of times (absolutely incredible) but this time we went to The Greenhouse in Hays Mews, Mayfair. It takes us quite a while to save for this type of restaurant, but we think it’s worth it and the Greenhouse was no exception..
Hays Mews is a funny little road, it runs straight with another road adjacent, also called Hays Mews, so we walked down the wrong part first, but that didn’t matter, we had plenty of time.
Once we found the right part of the road, we could see the restaurant clearly, it has huge plants visible outside from the end of the road. Don’t ask me what they are, I’m not that good at botany.
As you enter the restaurant, you walk through a decked garden. Just green plants, no flowers, but maybe that’s just the time of year. Still, it was lovely to walk through it.
It was raining when we arrived, and the young man at reception opened the door for us and quickly took our wet umbrellas away. Coats away, and we were shown to our table. They very kindly brought me a little table for my handbag, telling me it was bad luck to put it on the floor. And then, a trolley appeared in front of us with a variety of champagnes. Paul and I both like Veuve Cliquot, so we started with a glass each. We also ordered some water. One of the things I liked was that we were given time to relax before any menus were brought up, and relax we did, whilst sipping our champagne.
Then we were brought up fresh bread, gluten free for me, with two butters, one of which had seaweed and Maldon sea salt in it. I’ve never had that before but will definitely try to get hold of some, it was so delicious.
We were given a lunchtime set menu as well as the A La Carte. I always like to look at the set menus, just to see whether I’m missing anything, but generally tend to order from the A La Carte, and so it was on this occasion, for both of us. Our waitress, if that is the correct term to use here, she may have been the maitre d’, checked the food allergies of which they’d been informed, and told us we could order anything from the menu and they’d let us know if they couldn’t cater for us. Fortunately, we both ordered things that didn’t require any changes.
Orders for food placed, we were brought the first of two amuse bouche. I honestly can’t remember what they were, except that there was a slight hitch with mine because they had gluten in them (no big deal, and I know I’m quite difficult, so I quite understand if restaurants don’t always get it exactly right as long as I don’t actually eat anything that will cause me a problem).
First amuse bouche out of the way, Paul studied the very comprehensive wine list and found a white for me (my favourite Chablis) and a red for him.
Second amuse bouche. We both had one that was called harissa, and tasted very much like houmous, but they were all lovely and very different flavours. Each of us tried both wines, and we were very happy with them both, so all was well with the world.
Paul had ordered the native lobster with watermelon, peanut satay and lime. It looked absolutely gorgeous, with the watermelon and the lobster being almost the same colour and size, placed decoratively around the plate.
I had Orkney Scallop with verbena, green zebra tomato and samphire. It came up in a jelly, which worried me a bit because I’m not a fan of jelly, but actually it was lovely. The verbena gave it a very interesting flavour, and I’m not using interesting in my usual euphemistic sense; it really was lovely just not what I’d been expecting. My only other experience of jellied seafood is jellied eels and I don’t like them at all, but once I’d put them out of my mind, I was fine.
For the main course, Paul had chosen the Welsh organic lamb from the Rhug Estate, with houmous, kombu (a type of kelp) and lemon, which Paul loved. I chose the wild sea bass with celeriac, coconut, wasabi and cos lettuce (that’s twice in the space of a week that I had cooked lettuce and it was lovely both times, better than raw. A new vegetable for me to prepare at home.)
I don’t know about the rest of you, but whenever I go to these “designer” restaurants, I always think I’m going to come away hungry, because the portions look small (but then they do always put them on ridiculously large plates, which doesn’t help) but I end up at the end of the meal wishing someone would tuck me up in a ball so I can roll home…
Notwithstanding the fact that I was doing nicely by this point, I still managed several different cheeses from the trolley…. With more of the lovely bread. Paul had a fennel dessert with lemon and Agoureleo olive oil. They actually brought a little jug of olive oil up and poured it over the dessert before Paul ate it, which was novel. He said it was unusual but rather lovely.
At the end, when we had tea and coffee, we were brought some jellied fruits and chocolates.
The whole meal was delicious but different, in as much as the flavours were just a bit different, with what seemed to me to be quite a strong Moroccan influence. It’s no surprise to me that the restaurant has two Michelin stars. The chef is Armaud Bignon, a Frenchman who has previously worked in Paris and Greece, where he took his restaurant Spodi to be the only two Michelin starred restaurant in Greece.
© Susan Shirley 2015