The Greenhouse is quite the Michelin starred oasis in the heart of Mayfair and had it not been for my friend bumping in to the lamp next to our table on several occasions as a result of his over-enthusiasm for the place, it would have been the most serene of evenings.
Oh, the weather outside is frightful. Yes, it is a properly British summer but we shouldn’t let this get us down. In the spirit of optimism, today I am reviewing a most summery restaurant: The Greenhouse.
Tucked behind houses in Mayfair, the Greenhouse is accessed through a beautiful garden. Lush planting and sculptures by Emily Young welcome you in the sunniest fashion even if, as on the day I visited, the sky was distinctly grey and the ground damp.
Inside, the restaurant is bright and airy, with big glass windows bringing a little of the garden to your table. The staff too are a wonderful breath of fresh air: friendly, helpful and utterly professional.
The private dining room at The Greenhouse
On noting how much we had enjoyed the amuse bouche of delicate mushroom macarons, so light they evaporated instantly on your tongue, our waiter kindly produced two more. Little touches like these are not found everywhere.
The menu is an interesting blend of modern French with clear Asian influences, perfectly exemplified in the scallop starter, which came tandoori-style with green asparagus. My dinner companion that evening was concerned that my poor scallop would be overpowered by the spices, but was silenced when a forkful ended up on his plate. It was beautifully spiced and perfectly balanced with that glorious translucently milky centre. Fois gras with raspberry was a surprise, not overly sweet and with a heady aftertaste that was enough to make its eater swoon. He was very impressed, as was I.
John Dory with iodised bread
Mains were both fish on this occasion, and the stand out dish was the Brixham line-caught sea bass with the most delicious blackened polenta and yuzu. The plating up was understated but elegant, much like the flavours. The dishes were light and summery, packed full of flavour but not busy — a masterclass in simple combinations.
It is impossible to go to the Greenhouse without mentioning their marvellous cheese trolley. There is something gloriously retro about a cheese trolley and even those who don’t hugely like cheese (yes, I’m talking about myself) can see the appeal.
Every cheese we enquired about was on the board, with the exception of Stinking Bishop, which is pretty impressive. A generous plate of your chosen cheeses is brought to you with crackers and accompaniments and was enough for most modest picnics. I, on the other hand, went sweet and plumped for the pieces of pineapple with pine nuts under a lavender and lemon foam. Usually, I’m not overly enamoured with lavender in food as it often leaves an unpleasant soapy taste in the mouth but this was just a hint, giving the course a delicately Provençal feel.
The Greenhouse is quite the Michelin-starred oasis in the heart of Mayfair and had it not been for my friend bumping in to the lamp next to our table on several occasions as a result of his over-enthusiasm for the place, it would have been the most serene of evenings.