It's like entering a private members' club, discreetly signed, upstairs in an Edwardian Mayfair building with its own elevator. The two-storey interior is decadent, jewel-like with velvet and pony skin sofas, good lighting and the best list of champagne cocktails served in exquisite glasses. Up a midnight blue spiral staircase, there's a dedicated cocktail bar with a real sense of serious cosseting, created by restaurant designer Shuan Clarkson. The cocktail list is highly original and perfectly executed: rhubarb negroni through "Dreaming of Salmon' (you'll have to visit to discover what this is!) to liquorice whisky sour and burnt lemon martini. After all Conigliaro has been called the Heston Blumenthal of cocktails. It is perfectly possible to dip into Gazelle for a pre-dinner cocktail and an exceptional snack like parmesan crisps sandwiched with yeast butter. For a post-dinner moody tryst it is most inviting too.
Snacks give a taste of the excitement in store: wispy crispy wafters of eryngii mushroom and oysters with a yeast emulsion, adding a umami edge that accentuates the mineralogy of the oyster and partners so beautifully with champagne.
If only the waiters could skip the now over familiar chant of 'we serve sharing plates and recommend ordering more than you could possibly eat'. We recommend ordering a single dish from each section and playing it by ear, saving space to opt for several desserts.
The sharing plates menu is cleverly designed in graduating intensity of flavour. From the left, choose light and delicate squid served like tagliatelle with cured pork giancale and girolle mushrooms. It is the runaway hit for me. A beguiling combination of silky, fishy texture and melting saltiness that brings a smile for its cleverness and good looks. Yet, still it is not overwrought with too many ingredients. In the middle of the menu are dishes such as turbot served simply with sea herbs and perfectly cooked. Special mention should go to the fennel and spelt bread which has an exceptional crust served with an olive oil butter. Of the dishes with greater intensity and depth, iberico pork presa with salted carrots impressed, although the portion was really too small for sharing at £14.50.
All photos credit to James Mason
Desserts are equally inventive and not too sweet. Best of all is sesame, mango and pink peppercorn, combining earthy lusciousness with sweet and subtle piquancy.
Restaurateur-drinks supremo Tony Conigliaro and chef Rob Roy Cameron are a dream creative team. Congliaro's Soho coffee and negronis Bar Termini and Dalston's 'Untitled" bar modernised the London cocktail scene. Meanwhile chef Rob Roy Cameron was rocking Barcelona with the brothers terribles of modern gastronomy Ferran and Albert Adria. Cameron worked at the nerve centre of El Bulli's legendary kitchen and went on to launch 41 Degrees and Hoja Santa in Barcelona with Albert Adria. He successfully created the menu at 'Untitled' as the precursor for Gazelle, their more luxe Mayfair vision of future dining.
Gazelle is yet another outstanding addition to the great restaurants of Albemarle Street.
Price: dinner for two including cocktails and wine: £150+
|What||Why Gazelle has the best champagne cocktails in town|
|Where||Gazelle, 48 Albemarle Street , W1S 4DH | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Green Park (underground)|
30 Jul 18 – 30 Sep 19, Open Mon-Sat 8am - midnight