Capricious Del Monte

There is no doubt that this year I have been extraordinarily lucky, having visited some top-class establishments: The Ritz, Pétrus, Burgh Island, The Belvedere, Walkabout. This is what happens when you become a big time food blogger. Your life changes in subtle ways and you do too. I notice things that you unchallenged peons don’t: The nuances of service, the complexity of dishes, the quality of bogroll. Nothing beats really good bogroll. And so I risk becoming inured to the finer things in life and the exquisite becomes quotidian. Just cling to how lucky you are not to have had it so good so you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s like Flowers for Algernon. I am Algernon.

So it was with healthy wariness of my own jaded palate (I’m so complex) that I swanned into the Le Caprice (http://www.le-caprice.co.uk/) for a slap-up grill with the Del Montessa on my arm, my sister Dangles and her portion of Mancake (shudder). Full disclosure: Mancake has a professional association with the Le Caprice. Also, I briefly had a thing with one of Steps.

I could ramble on for ages about how amazing the starters were. How the steak tartar had an amazing party in my mouth, but no one else was invited because it was so exclusive; a very naughty roast duck salad; succulent scallops; and they’re merely the starters. I could bore you endlessly about the main courses. The slip soles were cooked to perfection, allowing uncomplicated de-boning (Fun fact: Uncomplicated deboning was why me and H split up). Mancake had some improbably tender lamb; Dangles hawked down what looked like a spatchcocked sea bream; and the Del Montessa feasted on a vast slab of cod sat atop a beautiful rissotto. I could waste everyone’s time talking about the desserts. The fabulous service; the intimate atmosphere despite being enormously busy; the classy decor, including snaps of the stars adorning the walls, by David Bailey (check out the topless shot of Twiggy at the top of the stairs down to the loos. People can be really rude when you’re staring at a nip-slip for 15 minutes); the excellent selection of wine and English fizz that we were treated to. I won’t though. I’ll spare you.

What occurred to me was that had I not being paying attention, the whole evening could have passed by in a blissful haze and I would have been hard pressed to note anything remarkable about the experience. All I would know is how content I was afterwards. This might represent a problem for some people, but I think it is a strength. The Le Caprice is a calibratory establishment by which all other restaurants can be measured. It scores 100% on every metric and does so without crowing the fact or hectoring the clientele who I imagine must be very loyal. A tip of the hat to you the Le Caprice and to the mindless namesake who established you.

Del Monte toasts the tartar he about to humiliate. Jagger watches over him, as always.

Del Monte toasts the tartar he is about to humiliate. Jagger watches over him, as always.

Roast duck salad. As vertical as salad gets.

Roast duck salad. As vertical as salad gets.

Scallops beautifully presented.

Scallops beautifully presented.

Slip Soles. Delicious simplicity.

Slip Soles. Delicious simplicity.

Spatchcocked Sea Bream. Spatchcocking - another activity H shied away from. What are you afraid of H? You lilly-livered land-lubber. Lilly-livering - another activity H shied away from (I could go on.)

Spatchcocked Sea Bream. Spatchcocking – another activity H shied away from. What are you afraid of H? You lilly-livered land-lubber. Lilly-livering – another activity H shied away from (I could go on.)

Roast rack of lamb. Look at that rack.

Roast rack of lamb. Look at that rack.

A perfect rhomboid of cod.

A perfect rhomboid of cod.

Iced-popcorn bar and twirl of chocolate.

Iced-popcorn bar and twirl of chocolate.

Not my cup of tea. Draw your own conclusions. Dangles wolfed it down.

Not my cup of tea. Draw your own conclusions. Dangles wolfed it down.

There was a lot of suspicion about the cheese cake, but it checked out.

There was a lot of suspicion about the cheese cake, but it checked out.

Classy joint no?

Classy joint no?

Arlington Street
London
SW1A 1RJ
Tel: 020 7629 2239
http://www.le-caprice.co.uk/

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