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)
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!