“I’m not sure about the Dalek wine trolley,” said Mike, suspiciously, as a bar cart with invisible wheels bore down on us, reminding me, rather charmingly, of the moving podiums contestants used to come out on on Catchphrase back when Roy Walker was doing it.
We were at Ormer Mayfair, the new outpost of the celebrated Jersey restaurant of the same name. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Jersey(an?) cuisine doesn’t tickle your pickle as much as say, Fancy Asian (my personal favourite), BUT there’s actually a lot to it. You’ve got fresh-as-fuck seafood, game and cheese from nearby France, and other gastronomic postcards of island life. Trust me, there’s good shit here.
We scanned menus that read like love poetry. Dishes are described in clusters of high-powered ingredients that fill chubby types like me with longing: tomato fondue, horseradish panna cotta, kalamata sorbet, chorizo chutney. Tentatively, we made our decisions (the FOMO is strong here) and waited to see what turned up. The restaurant had only been open a week and Instagram was not yet the fertile perving ground it soon will be.
But first: an unannounced amuse-bouche of crisp, sweet, fried brioche with a filling of Jersey lobster that I would see shortly again in my starter. It reminded me very much of the fantastic pork mantou at HKK, but with creamy, tender lobster meat instead of Chinese pork. It was a nice welcome gesture, and slightly offset the horror that naturally accompanies the ordering of an £18.00 starter.
My Jersey Lobster Ravioli – yes, £18.00 – was presented as a giant meatball in a firm, sunshine yellow mantle of fresh pasta, splashed with a piquant crab and tomato bisque. The waiter laid a spoon down beside me before the dish arrived, which got me a bit excited because there are few things that please me more than a vat of seafood bisque, but then I remembered that this is fine dining and when dining fine one does not do anything so vulgar as to sup from a spoon. The bisque was, obviously, no more than three tablespoons’ worth, so presumably they just wanted to show off their fancy silverware.
Mike had the bunny. I love rabbit, but I’m often put off by its tiny, sad little bones. Fortunately Ormer’s rabbit (£16.00) arrives in gamey little steaks, rich with the lean flavour afforded by an animal that spends 90% of its waking hours vigorously shagging and running away from things, and wrapped in smokey pancetta. The strong flavour of the rabbit holds its own against a harem of other ingredients – the pancetta, little girolles, baby gem lettuce, gnocchi and peas. (This is a promo picture, FYI, but Mike’s portion was actually about 50% larger than this.)
We washed all this down with a bottle of Italian Pinot Grigio (£30.00). I was anticipating some sticker shock on the wine front, but the cheapest bottle I found was just £21. Not bad, not bad.
The duck on the menu was making eyes at me but I was put off by the inclusion of foie gras, which I don’t eat. Instead, I chose the lamb loin (£32.00), mainly because it came with sweetbreads – tender little nubbins of intensely lamby lambiness – and black garlic.
Mike’s pork – ‘Iberico Secreto’ (£29.00) – is without a doubt one of the tastiest things I’ve ever had the pleasure of shoving into the yawning chasm of my gob. Now, I’ve done a bit of research on this, and apparently there are various morsels of secreto pork hidden within the carcass of one of Spain’s acorn-fed Iberico pigs. This piece, from below the shoulder blades, apparently, had been marinated for 48 hours, glazed and barbecued before being served with chorizo chutney (yes, yes, yes!), Asian pear and little curls of calamari – a brave move that elevated an already extraordinary dish to multiple Michelin status.
Pudding was a shared dark chocolate ‘double brownie’, which comprised an inch and a half of rich chocolate ganache on top of a fudgey brownie base. We declared ourselves baffled by the clump of popcorn perched on top and devoured the whole thing between us, but…well, I don’t believe there’s a pudding in the world worth £12. Unless it’s a chocolate goose that also shits out other puddings. I would consider that a fairly solid purchase.
When the meal ended we were presented with tiny boxes of petits fours to take home – party bags! Our bill was just shy of £100 for two, including two courses, a pudding to share, water, service and a bottle of wine. Without the soft launch offer, it would have been around £160, so it’s not cheap. But for special occasions? It was one of the best meals I’ve had in London this year. (And it’s 50% off until 19th September, so do what you have to to get one of those bargain tables. Alternatively, if you’re rollin’ in dollar, wait until the official launch on 20rd September and book yourself in for the tasting menu, eight courses for £75.)
Ormer Mayfair, 7-12 Half Moon St, London W1J 7BH
NB: I was too busy enjoying myself to take my own photos, so visual aids are provided by Instagram and the restaurant’s own promo shots.
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.