Ormer Mayfair at Flemings Hotel:
The highlight of a recent visit to Jersey was dinner at Ormer. I have yet to write a full review and, as we indulged in the tasting menu, it will take some time for me to process all the images. A week or so later I was lucky to have a second opportunity to sample Shaun Rankin’s dishes at the newly opened Ormer Mayfair. I have to admit, I’d seen a friend tweeting from the soft launch almost simultaneously with my visit to Jersey and I’d made a particular point of getting myself along to Ormer Mayfair.
Now, I have been to Flemings Hotel before, but many years before Shaun Rankin took up residence. It’s one of those chic hotels in the backstreets of Mayfair that for me are far more what London is about than some of the larger International hotels on Park Lane. Part of the Small Luxury Hotels group it is a boutique hotel that retains all the charm of an English townhouse. Hotel dining is not so important in London as, for example, in Dubai or Singapore, so the smaller boutique hotels sometimes don’t have a restaurant at all and at other times offer relatively simple, unfussy menus. After all, it’s not hard to find somewhere to eat in London. If you are going to have a restaurant in a London Hotel, it needs to be in some way outstanding.
I was genuinely impressed with Ormer in Jersey so very keen to see how the London branch might fare. Quite a challenge, since Ormer in Jersey is heavily reliant on the ultra fresh seafood, dairy and vegetables that the Island provides. I wasn’t disappointed.
We started the evening with a glass of something fizzy. For me, a glass of 2009 Classic Cuvee by Magnum, Nyetimber Estate. I’m told that champagne and sparkling wines produced by the Magnum make a better drink. Without a side by side comparison, I’d find it hard to judge. But, I do love Nyetimber – and I respect the attention to detail that served me the ultimate glass…
We went on to enjoy a sourdough bread with a lovely, chewy crust and some home-made Jersey dairy butter with sea vegetables which would have been a good enough start to the meal.
Perhaps in a nod to a neighbour (the original Burger and Lobster is just around the corner) we were brought an amuse bouche of Jersey Lobster in a brioche roll. Beautifully presented and with a lovely delicate lobster filling, this was let down a little by a rather dry brioche that I suspect had been portioned too early before service.
I was intent on enjoying some Jersey lobster so picked the Jersey Lobster Ravioli with crab and tomato bisque and shallot salad. It was immaculate with perfectly al dente pasta, a delicious lobster filling and a rich, comforting bisque. With it, a glass of 2015 Tempranillo Blanco, Abel Mendoza – a white Spanish Rioja. Deliciously buttery, rich and smooth, I was both surprised and delighted.
My companion’s Tuna was served sashimi style with a slice of fresh scallop, with an avocado and cucumber sorbet. A glass of 2015 Yealands Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough provided sufficient acidity to match the dish without overwhelming.
It is game season and I don’t miss an opportunity to indulge. Roast grouse with purple cabbage, blackberries, vanilla and toasted grains was bursting with flavour. A beautiful autumnal dish, my photography doesn’t really showcase how pretty this looked on the plate. Perfectly paired for me with a 2013 Cabernet Shiraz, Willunga 100, McLaren Vale, I couldn’t have asked for a better main course.
My companion picked the dish I’d enjoyed most in Jersey. He was thrilled with his Turbot with pine nut crust, cauliflower, cockles and sea vegetables. Had I chosen that dish I might have been a little fussier, if only because the version I was served in Jersey looked lighter and was certainly cooked more delicately. But, which tasted better I can’t say since I wasn’t offered a mouthful of the London version;). His wine pairing was the 2013 Pinot Noir from Gusbourne Estate. I’m impressed that English Pinot Noirs are working so well now. Ten years ago I’d have hesitated at the idea of an English red, but now wines like this are every bit as good as their Continental and New World cousins. I suspect the improvement has more to do with the skill of the wine maker than with global warming, though.
Dessert for me was Shaun Rankin’s Original Treacle Tart with raspberries and clotted cream ice-cream (£9). I love this kind of updated take on a childhood favourite. It was light and yet beautifully sticky, another perfect autumnal dish. Paired with a fragrant figgy, 20-year old Moscatel ‘Cuva Vella’, Valsan 1831 Valencia I felt it rounded off the meal perfectly.
Meanwhile, my companion picked the rather more refined Victoria plum soufflé with cinnamon ice cream (£12). Light and fluffy, perfumed with the late summer scent of plums, he was delighted and much appreciated the matching with a glass of 2011, Semillon, ‘Straw Wine’, Vergelegen, Stellenbosch (£7).
Ormer Mayfair is headed up by Kerth Gumbs, who was recruited from Dover Street Arts Club, and who previously worked with Jason Atherton at The Wolseley, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon and with Tom Aikens. Front of House is Agnieszka Josko who is returning to her culinary roots, having cut her teeth at Ormer in Jersey before moving on to various top restaurants including Gorden Ramsay at Claridge’s, Helene Darroze at The Connaught and most recently as Restaurant Manager at the two Michelin-starred restaurant, the Greenhouse. It’s a lovely space, despite the basement setting and has enough of the feel of Ormer in Jersey, without looking like a copy.
Was the food on a par with Ormer in Jersey – I’m honestly not sure because comparing a la carte with a tasting menu is like comparing apples and pears. The only direct comparison I have is the turbot, where I think Jersey won by an inch rather than a mile. And, for me, the star dish this time was the lobster ravioli which was as good as anything I ate in Jersey. I hope that both the restaurants flourish. The passion and the enthusiasm of the teams make each deserved of success.
Ormer at Flemings Hotel
7-12 Half Moon St,
London W1J 7BH