"May Fair Kitchen has the courage to be different"Review Rating: Reviewed by Sean Sheehan
Swanky Mayfair is not my usual stomping ground but a pal, who was in that part of town to see the Dennis Hopper photography exhibition at the Royal Academy, had come across it and thought the menu looked interesting because there were no starters.
Restaurants with a bar provide an opportunity to take stock before being whisked off to your table in double-quick time so this was our first port of call. In less time than it takes to shake a martini, a waitress rushed up and called for a glass of water for a diner who was coughing. Panicking because the H2O didn’t instantly appear in her hand, she alarmed everyone by insisting the customer was dying. She rushed off with the water but there were no further instalments of this little drama and matters proceeded in a less urgent manner.
Hotel restaurants tend to play safe with menus but May Fair Kitchen has the courage to be different. At the bar, a classic martini is not available; instead, seven one-off versions of the cocktail are concocted and with some trepidation – wasabi purée with gin sounds whacky --the Tokyo Drive was tasted. Initially alarming, taste buds settled down as the food menu was being searched for starters. They are not on the first couple of pages and never appear as such but under the Sides section small portions of a Caesar and other salads or crab and fennel croquettes are available and they make for suitable appetisers.
What does dominate the menu are grills and food from the sea and here the restaurant comes into its own. Steaks are available in different weights up to 20oz and there is a massive mixed grill (£42) featuring pork infused with Pommery, rare breed sausage, duck egg, aged beef filet, lamb cutlet, black pudding … the list goes on and I begin to see why the concept of starters is treated with indifference. Something similar applies to the fish: lobster is available up to 3lb. It would be giving the wrong impression, though, to imply that May Fair Kitchen is only for gourmands. Oysters from Northern Ireland can be ordered in any number and the few I ate as a ‘starter’ were delicious while the turbot off the bone was cooked to perfection.
Sauces are chosen separately and there are ten to choose from, though they are more suitable for the meats and are hardly needed for fish when lovely side dishes like lobster mash with tarragon and capers offer themselves.
May Fair Kitchen, away from the busy roads around Piccadilly, is a comfortable place to eat and there is a pleasing formality to the service. Your plates of food come from those collapsible serving tables that appear and disappear in a jiffy and floor space is generous enough to allow for a dessert trolley to be wheeled to your table for the final course. This only seems retro because most London restaurants have neither the space or the inclination to bother with such service. May Fair Kitchen is a new restaurant with new ideas and old notions of service – and nothing could be fairer than that.
Sean Sheehan reviewed May Fair Kitchen on Fri 22 Aug 2014