Apsleys at the Lanesborough – Where Taste Fails

ONE day and ONE meal into the New Year and we already have a strong contender for the Worst Meal and Most Disappointing Meal of 2011.

We had done a fair bit of research before booking Apsleys (A Heinz Beck restaurant located in The Lanesborough Hotel).  The reviews were mixed, but on the whole quite positive.  Some food critics and bloggers that we would normally rely on (you know who you are), actually rated this place as a future two star Michelin restaurant.

The room is extremely opulent, very much old world styling, which is in keeping with the hotel, however the canned music is a bit jarring.

We also found that the rather irritating, variable lighting levels created the ideal environment to stop bloggers taking decent photographs and certainly did nothing to enhance the presentation of the food.

We chose the 5 course Tasting menu with matching wines.  Normally we have found that Tasting menus while often presenting dishes as small portions still manage to get the balance right, so that at the end of the meal you are comfortably full.  However after 3 of our 5 courses we were pretty sure this would not be the case here.

The first course was Wild red sea bream carpaccio which bizarrely had a tropical theme, tasting as it did of Pina Colada.  In our view this was hardly a suitable dish for the depths of winter.  The next course was a very ordinary Pumpkin tortellini with castelmagno cheese, which was followed by 5 wafer thin slivers of Scallop.

Basically the dishes fell into the category of just okay or downright bad.  The main course of Lamb with quinoa and sugar snaps in particular was actually unpleasant with a harsh astringent sauce and fatty lamb.

The dessert which was obviously designed to introduce some kind of WOW factor, fell flat.  It consisted of a ice cream and honey comb biscuit filled chocolate orb.  The waiter theatrically poured hot chocolate sauce over it to expose the ice cream.   A nice idea, but the overall effect was to produce what seemed to us like a plate of cheap tasting chocolate sludge.

We had such a good run of restaurants leading up to and over Christmas, that we take no pleasure in reviewing this one. It brought back memories of the late and unlamented La Rotonde Restaurant at the Beau Rivage Palace in Lausanne and the La Dama Tourist Trap in Barcelona.  Something is badly wrong when you have a strong desire to leave half way through a tasting menu.

The consensus was that far from deserving a second Michelin Star this restaurant really does not merit even the one star it already has. It is frustrating to go to these elitist high end restaurants that look the part and deliver service by numbers while failing to deliver on the food. Indeed it almost prompted us to make a new New Year’s Resolution to focus on just the restaurants in the Nigel Platts-Martin’s stable where food quality and flavour rule.

In conclusion one word sums up our experience of Apsleys – AVOID!

Marks out of 10

Food 3.5 (1.5 for the Lamb, as this was a “get me out of here” moment)

Service 5

Ambience 5

UPDATE: June 2012. Chef Change – Heros de Agostinis is now the new chef at Apsleys following Massimiliano Blasone resignation.  Hopefully he will be more generous with the Scallops!



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18 thoughts on “Apsleys at the Lanesborough – Where Taste Fails”

  1. totally disappoint with this review!!!

    Apsleys deserve a 2nd Michelin stars by the food, amous boche, dessert and also Petit Four. this petit four you can’t get in other 2 michelin star… only in Alain Ducasse you can find the same quality. I eat the same tasting menu’ that is Healty and not full of butter like the 80% of Restaurant with many Michelin Stars.

  2. totally agree with Mario, one of the London Top Restaurant.
    It’s noemal 100 pound for all that meal!!
    if you wanna spend less you go for top table deal!

  3. Unfortunately I can not agree that it is one of London’s top restaurants based on our experience. The food we had recently at The Ledbury, Chez Bruce and Koffmanns was streets ahead of what was served to us here. We have on more than one occasion spent well over £100 on a meal and had some fabulous food. Le Bristol in Paris for example was over £200 a head and about 100 times better than Apsleys. London has some great restaurants but in our view this is not one of them.

  4. I can’t immage such a bad experience. 3.5 for the food look incredible…..
    impossible to my point of view.

    I was in Koffmanns and was good but i do not find bread as good as Apsleys, in Koffmanns was cold and they also buy…… in Apsleys they make their ownone.
    Souffle’ pistacchio in Koffmanns taste of eggs and incredible i found a betterone in Apsleys (with ricotta cheese, passion fruit and yogurt icecream)…..

    I forgot…. I was also in Ledbury…. were they buy the bread too, their petit four was disappoint and also only 3 for a 2 michelin stars restaurant.

    And from your blog i see a very bad review of Hibiscus that is one of my favorite restaurant in London with Apsleys.

    Nobody is perfect, now what you will answer??

    i image….. politicts!!

  5. Nothing political, we have no connection with any restaurant. We base our reviews on the experience on the day, as stated these are our opinions. Michelin starred restaurants are meant to be consistent. So should not matter when we visit, food should be off a high standard.

    It also seems we are not alone in our opinions on the food at Apsleys, Giles Coren’s rather amusing review gave it 3/10, see http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/article7071162.ece

  6. I Agree on the consitence but what do you expect from a restaurant after new years eve and the 1st of january BOMBINGS ??????
    And second How many vegetables did you get on your plate at the Ledbury..???? in that place its just meat and sauce…
    The portions at Apsleys are not huge but still good sized for the type of restaurant.
    Why cant we admit that finally we have a FINE ITALIAN RESTAURANT in town?
    Mchelin is also details… What did you get as petit fours, bread, amuse bouche, pre dessert at the ledbury or chez bruce?

  7. Funny that also Times on line wrote the same!!!!
    Last time they review Apsleys, last year Apsleys took first Michelin star,
    maybe at this stage Apsleys will take the second!!

    And also Giles Coren’s write bad about Apsleys and good about Italian Trattoria like Bocca di Lupo where you find a not Good Italian Food and I forgot there are not Italian Chefs in the Kitchen!!!

    Maybe you are right….. or maybe there is something strange!!!

    First or second??





    maybe Giles Coren and you say the truth…..

  8. I simply love This Restaurant!!!

    sometime you can have a bad day!!! nobody is perfect!!!

    2 michelin stars food

  9. Apsleys certainly seems to have its fans. In my view customers in restaurants at this level, should never see bad days. In most of the Michelin star restaurants I have been to repeatedly, the “off days” are just times when the food slips from sublime to simply good.

  10. We’ve had a similar un-Michelin-like experience at Aspleys, yet it was not with the meal, which in my opinion was rather splendid and innovative. The restaurant manager (or head waiter), an Italian chap with a tux, came across as rather arrogant and self important – there was an awful amount of hovering and scanning of our table and at times this was quite offputting as we picked up on glances of repulsion from his side to ours. An establishment like this should try not to spoil the general ambience with narcissistic, puffed-up employees who feel that they are superior to the diners. Oh, and by the way, what the heck is that ghastly thing on the wall?

  11. Small point; Mr. Koffman bakes his own bread and it’s pretty bloody fantastic. It’s every bit as good as when I used to visit his 3* gaff, arguably the finest restaurant that Britain has ever had, La Tante Clair where Ramsay’s is currently.

  12. very interesting comments… I’ve been there few times always liked it, especially for the ambiance, but also, I always was in a bigger group of people, so … But- from your review and comments: a) anybody can have an off day – hmm, no they can’t not at that level… b) narcissistic, puffed-up employees – if you’re not a big payer, but only have dinner for two – I have to say that’s the case with many many places, sadly

  13. Best to try for for yourself

    The critics became quite frantic about Dinner By Heston

    I hosted my birthday there and it was the most pedestrian meal I have ever had

    All 8 of my party were underwhelmed and the only saving grace was the kudos of having been to a hot venue early after opening

    Apsleys had certainly attracted negative press when it opened

    However there are many positive blogs about it now and it may well receive a second star rating if rumours are to be believed

    My good friends went for their anniversary yesterday and loved it

    Therefore I am now going tomorrow!

    Best to take a reccomendation from a trusted friend rather than people who waste time blogging and taking photos- which is quite a convoluted and abnormal way of eating out if you ask me
    It’s only food and will only be excreted so don’t get too distressed about it!

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