Alexander Larman tucks into modern British fare at Neo Bistro – Mayfair’s pleasingly laid-back new dining spot…
Traditional British restaurants always sound like Simpsons-in-the-Strand and Rules, trailing great strings of puddings and pies and whatnot. However, over the past few years, there has been a welcome reinvention of what ‘traditional British’ actually means, and now, in the form of Mark Jarvis and Alex Harper’s Neo Bistro, we have something in Mayfair – not, traditionally, an inexpensive part of town – which combines the most delectable food with service and a setting that makes any visitor feel that they are welcome to be there.
What goes on here is the very best of modern British cuisine, in informal surroundings (the pub sign of a former incarnation is still hanging outside, no doubt to the bemusement of a certain sort of clientele) and with a wine list that would put any Michelin-starred establishment to shame.
The tasting menu costs £45. Which is a bargain, for what you get (albeit with a couple of extras to get the full experience), but we didn’t have it, because the a la carte, which is very much designed in miniature (three choices a course) offers plentiful delights.
If you have the charcuterie with a welcome glass of Nutborne sparkling wine, you can expect to sample delicious venison sausage, and wonderful sourdough bread. If you try the shellfish agnolotti, matched with a glass of Georgian Pheasant’s Tears white wine, you’re unlikely to try much more straightforwardly delicious in a restaurant this year.
And on and on it goes. Jarvis and Harper, intentionally or otherwise, seem intent on ensuring that their brand of top-class cooking and fine wine, served at the sort of prices that virtually anyone can afford, is going to be rhapsodised about by bloggers, critics and people-who-lunch forever.
Main courses of lamb with smoked eel and fillet of beef, accompanied by a perfect Bordeaux, are about as good as these things get; a signature dessert of chocolate and malt is set off by an espresso martini that cuts through the sweetness and sends any diner into the evening with a happy spring in the step.
But in 2017 London, ‘quite nice’ isn’t good enough any more. Neo Bistro understands that people want the best, and serves that up in spades.
Dinner for two around £100
Sampling what a London clientele wants to try these days
What to eat…
The lamb and smoked eel – on the tasting menu, but available on request on the a la carte – is going to be a famous signature dish soon
What to know…
The staff are some of the friendliest, and most knowledgeable, in town, so do ask them about the menu and wine list
11 Woodstock Street W1C 2AE; 020 7499 9427; neobistro.co.uk