19th Jan 2013 12:45pm | By Laura Chubb
The scene The head chef at this restaurant in the bowels of Mayfair’s Flemings Hotel is Sydneysider Braden Charlesworth, a young up-and-comer who was crowned Visionary Chef of the Year in 2012 thanks to a dish now appearing on The Grill’s menu (blood orange, buttermilk and carrot – read on for our verdict).
Charlesworth puts his success down to a uniquely Aussie attitude, telling TNT: “I’m just a very laidback chef, and I’m not concerned about working within the confines of any kind of tradition.”
The latter extends to the venue, too, which looks as opulent as you’d imagine in this neighbourhood, but in practice lacks pretension and packs a surprisingly affordable price tag (the most expensive dish costs £21.50).
The grub My dining companion and I choose completely opposing notes on which to start: my boneless chicken wings with chanterelles, leek, tarragon and crisp pork skin is unrepentantly rich, a creamy blend of leeks thickening the deep mushroom and crispy chicken skin flavours, while she plumps for a fresher-feeling grilled mackerel with broccoli, radish, honey and elderflower, which is at once light and sweet.
For the mains, my braised veal cheeks are melt-in-the-mouth tender; an almost cloying accompanying celeriac cream is cleverly offset by the acidic touch of pickled walnuts. My date’s Cornish sea bass with cauliflower cheese and black truffle butter lacks complexity but works as full-bodied comfort food.
For dessert, baked ginger parkin and salted caramel ice cream is an irresistible assault on the sweet tooth.
The award-winning blood orange won’t quite match up for those seeking sheer indulgence, but its airier sweetness is an achievement, and the carrot sorbet refreshing.
Behind the bar Wine from £6.50/ £22.50 per glass/ bottle. Cocktails £8-14.
Bill please Starters from £8.50; mains from £15.50; dessert from £7.50. Get a free champagne cocktail and canapés per person by quoting ‘TNT’ when you book via phone (020 7499 2964) or email (email@example.com). Valid January 21-February 28.
Verdict A treat that you can actually afford in cash-strapped January.
7-12 Half Moon Street, Mayfair, W1J 7BH
Tube | Green Park