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Restaurant Review: Mews of Mayfair, London

Mews of Mayfair
10 Lancashire Court, New Bond Street, London, W1S 1EY
Cuisine: British
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Helen Hokin: I won't tire of Modern British. Not as long as it's this good.
 
Mews of Mayfair is tucked away at the bottom of Lancashire Court, just off New Bond Street. It’s not a street I’d ever been down before or even noticed for that matter. But clearly I’m out of the loop because when I wandered along the narrow, cobbled mews on my way to dinner the other night it was rammed with al fresco diners sustained by so many heaters it was as balmy as Barcelona in June.
 
Mews of Mayfair invited me to try their revamped Modern British menu. It has been devised by Chef Michael Leconteur who cut his teeth at Smiths of Smithfield and who should, I imagine, know a thing or two about meat.
 
The interiors reflect the Britishness of the menu: sturdy oak tables, solid leather banquettes and lighting dim enough to set an intimate, clubby mood.
 
Restaurant manager, Sion Hamilton, ex-Tom Aikens and Gordon Ramsey, is everywhere at once and does that cliché thing of anticipating our needs before we even know what they are. We have barely installed ourselves at the corner table –the best vantage point in the house – when he delivers a board of crusty, chewy sourdough. Later, when I ask him if it’s baked in-house, he only brings me the name and address of their supplier (St John’s Bakery) jotted down on a piece of paper.
 
The manager extraordinaire suggests a wine from Bordeaux because, he explains, it is the one he will drink with his family when they come in to eat later in the week. I think he cares, I really do, about making us feel beyond contented and cared for.
 
If I owned a restaurant I’d hire Sion in a heartbeat.
 
To begin I can’t resist the Wild New Forest Mushrooms on Brioche (£7.50) though I realise, I’m filling up on bread before the meal has barely begun.
 
The last word on mushrooms on toast was at the Bingham Hotel in Richmond where I schlep, premeditatedly, once in a while, for a plate of them ordered from their bar menu.  I haven’t tried anything as good elsewhere. Until now. The assorted mushrooms are lusciously buttery and just slightly salty with a satisfying bite; the soft brioche their sweet foil. I can’t say I fully understood the blob of creamed potato balancing on one corner of my slice of brioche, but it’s probably just my aversion to double carbs (chip butties being the exception). That said, the emerald puddle of broccoli puree positioned on the opposite corner – they do symmetry here very well – lifted the dish from the depths of winter and was an entirely and pleasantly perky addition.  
 
My pal chose the Orkney Isles Scallops, Smoked Haddock, Spinach and Chive Butter (£15). The scallops, seared golden on the outside, still shimmery and a little translucent on the inside, were silently gobbled up then raved about.
 
From the grill we deliberated between the 6 oz Sussex Cross Flat Iron Steak (£14) and the 12oz Belted Galloway Rump (£25), both dry-aged for 35 days. We plumped for the rump, a side of steamed spinach and some properly crispy hand-cut chips. My guest wants his steak well-done. Sion doesn’t flinch. How terribly British. How delightfully unFrench. And out it comes - fossil fuel from an underground seam, perhaps, but it is exactly as my pal requested.
 
Our Sion pops up again at this point, he’s been coming and going all evening but in that discreet way that doesn’t break your flow. He’s brandishing an array of sauces:  “ I wasn’t sure which one you wanted so I brought them all.” There’s Green Pepper, Horseradish Cream, Mushroom, Sundried Tomato Butter and a glorious Bone Marrow Butter: decadently unctuous, luxuriously beefy.
 
Puds are fashionably deconstructed in a way that the main courses are thankfully not. Rhubarb and Custard (£6) is a delicate undoing of the nursery classic. Puff pastry (I want to say mille-feuille but we’re very much in Britain tonight), encases stem ginger and rhubarb the obligatory three ways: one jammy, one cool and crisp and the third somewhere in between. And it delivers what any good pud should. That is sweetness, tartness, a spike of warmth from the ginger, a little crispy pastry. And it just so happens to be a chaud-froid, to boot. Which box doesn’t it tick?
 
My Passion Fruit Cheesecake, Lemon Sherbert, Red Chilli (£6) is mousse-like, cold, creamy, cleverly citrussy and a little bit crunchy before smooth-scented tropical fruit with a hot and exotic burst of chilli breeze in to make it a fully grown-up dessert. And here comes Sion again. He’s carrying a passion fruit martini; he thinks it will work well with my dessert. I want to take him home.
 
On the way out you go downstairs and cross a landing where a wide window-sill is lined with jars of old-fashioned sweets. They’re from Suck n Chew, that oh-so-quirky 1950’s-style sweet shop on Colombia Road. The jar of liquorice torpedoes had no lid on it so I plunged my fist in and took out a handful. I ate them all on the way home. But now I’m wondering if that is what they’re meant for? Or do I owe someone sixpence?
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