What's the draw
I'm going to say it: Mayfair is becoming cool again. A spate of openings and reopenings in the past couple of years have meant the square mile or so between Green Park and Grosvenor Square has a renewed vigour, with fun and exciting places to eat helmed by some of the capital's most exciting chefs. Case in point: Ormer Mayfair, the flagship venue of Mayfair's Flemings Hotel, given a new lease of life courtesy of a tasteful renovation, but more importantly by the installation of precocious new head chef Sofian Msetfi, who at 30 has already clocked up experience at the likes of Midsummer House and The Hand & Flowers before helming the newly christened Ormer Mayfair by Sofian.
What to eat
Hipster small plates have their place, but I have always been, and will always be, an exponent of the idea that when it's done right, a tasting menu is the best way to eat at a modern British restaurant – and Msetfi's cooking at Ormer only adds fuel to that particular fire. Courses are built around British flavours, and showcase inventive technique without going too cheffy, and there are interesting plays with sweet and savoury throughout the menu, both in presentation and flavour – signature soda bread comes in madeleine moulds, while the first course proper is a jelly made with jamón ibérico, and further down the menu a custardy, mustard sauce with pear and walnut is a beautiful foil to meaty sweetbreads.
I've always said a tasting menu is the best way to eat at a modern British restaurant, and Msetfi's cooking at Ormer adds fuel to that fire
Elsewhere, a delicious cured mackerel course is knitted together by kombu broth, and dishes that lean more classic – breast of guinea fowl with requisite tangy apple gel and a rich pan jus, and a killer chocolate tart – are absolute knockouts, and up there with the best mains and desserts of any tasting menus in the area.
What to drink
Unsurprisingly, wine is the weapon of choice here – and if you can stretch to the pairing, it's definitely the best option. Like the identifiable threads that can be traced through Sofian's cooking, the team at Ormer Mayfair have an evident predilection towards aromatic wines, especially when it comes to whites, and the odd out-there choice, too, as in a skin-contact, amphora-aged malvasia from Catalonian producer Sicus, expertly paired with the sweetbreads, which knock some of the funk out of it, or a beautifully restrained Kiwi pinot gris from Greywacke, all fresh flowers and honey. Some beautiful choices down the menu included an excellent madeira and a late-harvest Tokaji, but our pick of the night was a show-stopping white bordeaux blend from Bodega Alandes in Mendoza, Argentina, a sémillon-sauvignon blend packed full of rich, luscious fruit flavour.
Flemings Mayfair, 7-12 Half Moon Street, W1J 7BH; flemings-mayfair.co.uk