Sanderson Hotel’s Summer Residency – Allan Pickett:
For many years Sanderson Hotel was a favourite London base for a New York lawyer friend of mine. He’d fly in, first or business class, with cases of immaculate Ferregamo shoes, perfectly pressed monogrammed Egyptian cotton shirts and tailor made suits. I’d hobble along in Louboutins to meet him in the Purple Bar for a glass of champagne before we went for dinner. Originally the headquarters of Sanderson & Co fabrics and wallpapers, the building is II* listed, and was reconfigured inside to open as a hotel at the turn of the century. It was a remarkable place , the quirky modern interior designed by Philippe Starck and architects Denton Corker Marshall making for a surreal experience. We didn’t eat at Sanderson Hotel, probably because he DID when he wasn’t meeting friends or business contacts.
It seemed quieter than I remembered on Monday evening, when I was there for dinner. The interior is much as it always was, though the restaurant has been fitted out by Quentin Reynolds at Reyco. The sleek space leads onto the heritage courtyard, a Japanese style oasis of calm. Allan Pickett, who has taken over the space for the Summer came from Plateau – where he turned a rather tired docklands haunt into a stunning steak-house. He’s officially at Sanderson Hotel while he works on the opening of Piquet, his own restaurant in Fitzrovia, opened in conjunction with Bodean’s founder Andre Blais. And, he’s working with Alain Morice as restaurant manager, both at Sanderson Hotel and when Piquet opens later this summer. It seems like an excellent team.
We were treated to an excellent meal with matched wines throughout.
Dinner started with Cornish crab, pressed watermelon and Petite Lucques tapenade paired with a light Pinot Grigio Meran Festival from Alto Adige, Italy. I loved the delicate crab with the intriguing pressed melon – the dish worked very well with the Pinot Grigio too.
House cured Scottish salmon with creme fraiche, beetroot and caviar was dainty and beautifully presented. The slightly oily fish worked exceptionally paired with a 2011 Chateau Lamothe Bouscaut.
My main, one of the signature dishes of the restaurant, was braised short rib with potato terrine, carrot puree and grilled onions. It’s a dish that doesn’t lend easily itself to cheffy presentation, though here the kitchen seemed to have succeeded admirably, adding in a little kale and rhubarb to reflect the seasonality of the menu. Most importantly, the meat was tender and moist with a sticky, rich, deep flavour. I loved the pairing with a warm, intense red-berry flavoured 2011 Crozes Hermitage, Petite Ruches Domaine Chapoutier.
Across the table, a hearty dish of poached cod cheeks served with a summer cassoulet of white beans, chorizo and herb oil. And, to pair a Pinot Noir from Pays d’Oc ‘En Revolution’
For dessert, the sable tart of strawberries, pistachio creme patissiere and elderflower sorbet was almost tempting enough for me to put up with the rash that would have resulted had I eaten the fruit.
Instead I had a mint sherbet with chocolate fondant piece and grue de cacao tuille, paired with a glass of Tokaji from Hungary.
It’s particularly impressive that this well balanced and beautifully executed menu comes at a reasonable price. Starters are between £7 and £11.50, main courses from £12.50 through to £21.00. While we were guests of the hotel on this occasion, at the prices on the menu I’d be happy to settle a bill for food of this quality.
Sanderson Hotel used to be somewhere to be. A venue where you’d sip a cocktail or a glass of champagne at the bar, indulge in a little people watching and, if you got bored, explore the design features. Now, it’s somewhere to be and to eat. I hate to think what that will do to the models propping up the Long Bar…
Allan Pickett at Sanderson Hotel
50 Berners Street
London W1T 3NG