"There’s something innately special about Mayfair’s Park Chinois..."Review Rating: Reviewed by Laurel
There’s something innately special about Mayfair’s Park Chinois from the very moment you step through the sumptuous velvet-curtained doorway. From the serial restauranteur Alan Yau, it’s the absolute polar opposite of perhaps his most well-known venture, Wagamama; every tiny detail breathes luxury and elegance, most certainly bringing old-school glamour back to Mayfair and paying homage to the opulence and decadence of 1930s Shanghai.
The ground floor is home to the plush Salon de Chine, a flamboyant dining room filled with chintz armchairs, crisp linen, fringed lampshades and rich tasselled drapes. The panelled walls and dark floor add to the feeling one is stepping into something akin to a blend of your grandmother’s drawing room and an illicit speakeasy, which definitely isn’t a bad thing. The space is home to a baby grand and a stage set and ready to receive evenings of entertainment; one look at the website’s events page proves that this is one restaurant that is so much more than a restaurant. The festive season’s schedule featured nightly live music in the Salon de Chine and entertainment from a festive troupe in the downstairs Club de Chine. Clearly it’s the place to be once the night draws in.
Though I visited for a Sunday afternoon tea and didn’t have the privilege of witnessing an evening of entertainment, my visit still had something of the spectacular about it. Regardless of the time of day, the staff will treat you like royalty. In fact, the staff to diner ration was quite something, each gliding silently across the room in their immaculate white uniform with one eye on your table at all times. Walking into the dining room past a roaring log fire, one is instantly transformed to a bygone era. It’s the kind of atmosphere that immediately makes you sit up a little bit straighter, talk a little bit quieter, sip your tea a little more delicately. In short, it was dreamy.
The Dim Sum & Tea menu (£49.50 per person or £60 with a glass of champagne), pairs a selection of 11 of Park Chinois’ signature dim sum with handpicked accompanying teas by Xie Xie teas, a family-run tea business based in the highest mountains of Formosa, Taiwan.
The first round featured a classic shrimp Har Gau, scampi shumai, Dover sole roll and Shanghai Stew long dumpling, each even more of a taste sensation than the last and accompanied by the [i]Oriental Beauty[/i] tea, with its delicate honey aroma and sweet taste. The venison puff was rich and delicious, definitely a highlight and perfectly twinned with the [i]Charcoal Roasted Oolong[/i]. A taro, scallop and sweetcorn croquette was up next, and a classic mooli cake. A final savoury round featured a mouth-watering wagyu beef gyoza, devilishly delicious summer truffle bar and a crispy bean curd and prawn cheung fun with a [i]Ginger Oolong[/i], combining lemon and orange citrus overtones with the sweet perfume of camomile flowers. I can’t remember much detail about the individual dim sum if I’m honest, mostly because I was in such a heady haze of food porn where each delectable mouthful was more wonderful than the last that I lost all sense of what I was supposed to be doing. Quite simply, it was the finest dim sum I’ve had the pleasure of tasting. The dessert course however didn’t quite live up to expectations, with the black sesame and peanut dumplings not quite hitting the mark and being a little cloying on the palette for my liking.
To be quite frank I don’t think I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting a London dining room such as this before. In fact I only with I’d dropped in for an evening session, dolled up in my finery and ready to raise the roof. The food was spectacular, the staff utterly faultless and the decor the stuff of interiors magazine fantasy. A night time visit is most certainly on the agenda for 2018.
Laurel reviewed Park Chinois on Mon 08 Jan 2018