Review – The Great British, Mayfair
North Audley Street is rather a nice street that runs south from Oxford Street pretty much opposite Selfridges. As you might expect from Mayfair, the road is lined with expensive restaurants. Italian, French, Spanish..and The Great British which looks a little like a pub from the outside but opens into fully fledged British dining room.
The first unexpected pleasure was that the restaurant wine list is 100% British. That for me works perfectly, especially when the weather is nice, because it pretty much guarantees good sparkling wine. If it’s well known overseas that ‘the British can’t cook’ it’s even better known that we can’t make wine…how refreshing to find somewhere that proves we CAN.
My Chapel Down Pinot Reserve 2005 was a deep golden colour with apple notes and a rich follow through. Very good indeed. My Companion enjoyed the lighter Bluebell Blanc de Blanc 2009 which he described as lemony.
The menu is an eclectic mixture of British dishes, almost all sourced with seasonal British ingredients – ranging from the traditional (Great British Fish and Chips with mushy peas and curry sauce) through to more contemporary dishes. I ordered Brixham crab salad because I felt a certain loyalty to the harbour on the English Riviera I’d visited the year before. The crab meat came with a rather heavier dressing than I’d expected but was pleasant all the same and well balanced with the salad leaves.
My companion’s Sea Trout Tartare with English peas and Longley Farm Crème Fraiche was an altogether more refined dish.
If I wasn’t 100% convinced by the starter, my main of Day Boat Cornish Fish was turbot, beautifully served with brown shrimps, jersey royals and butterfly sorrel. The Meopham Valley 2009 sparkling rose was really just an indulgence…but a very good one!
My companion chose the braised Old Spot pork belly, which was served with Devon cider, turnips and black pudding and enjoyed a glass of Chapel Down Pinot Noir 2011 with it.
So much food, we could only share dessert (we’d be watching what came out of the kitchen – and desserts are generously sized!). Yorkshire Rhubarb ‘Eton Mess’ is a take on the meringue based cream and strawberry dish that perhaps owes more to trifle, with a set cream custard at the bottom and whole toasted miniature meringues lining the dish. Very nice, but I’m not sure it’s quite close enough to the original to warrant the name on the menu.
Starters are mostly around £6-£8 and main courses between £12 and £20. Wine prices are reasonable – English wines tend to be expensive because production costs here are high so all respect to The Great British for a very constrained mark-up that has excellent quality British wine from £22 a bottle or £6.25 a glass.
I’m impressed by the clever presentation of all things British without fuss and at a reasonable price. This is one to bring visitors from overseas who don’t believe we have a British cuisine – as well as a place I’ll be returning. We dined as guests of the restaurant.