The Greenhouse is a two Michelin star restaurant located in a quiet mews in Mayfair. Executive Chef Arnaud Bignon takes the helm and places his spin on classic French cuisine. Walking down the decked tree-lined entrance through the elegant garden you immediately step into a calm zen-like ambience.
The decor with its muted tones, dim lighting, cream leather chairs, small tables for a lady’s handbag (loved that touch), twig installations on the walls and mini sculptures instead of token table flowers all ticked the right boxes.
The Greenhouse is open for lunch and dinner. It offers an à la carte menu (2 courses £85, 3 courses £95), a six course tasting menu for £110, a multi-course ‘Discovery’ menu for £125. Clearly not cheap, but then you are sat in two Michelin star restaurant in the middle of Mayfair.
On the other hand the set lunch menu is great value with 2 courses at £35 and 3 courses for £40. And whilst we’re on the topic of menus – Don’t be surprised after reading it maybe two-three times you’re still not sure what’s on offer. It’s full of trendy short names only giving you a hint of what to expect. I quite liked the element of surprise.
We decided to go à la carte and the evening kicked off with three delicious and perfect canapes. In order of greedy consumption the first was the poshest dough ball which has ever had the pleasure to pass my lips – lemony, buttery and topped with crunchy sesame seeds. Followed by a creamy cornetto of courgette and feta and lastly a pea and mint jelly, which instantly burst into flavoursome water on contact.
This was only the tip of the iceberg. Next up not one but two amuse-bouches, as cleansing your palette twice is obviously a necessity when it tastes this good. It came in the form of Melon – pimento/mozzarella (remember the short trendy names I mentioned). The miniature bottle of smooth pimento essence with a head of melon and mozzarella foam had me making the annoying slurping straw sound I reprimand my kids for!
The second for the pescatarians was Dorset crab – mint/ cauliflower/ granny smith apple/ curry. Presented as a luscious minty-apple gel with a dollop of cauliflower mousse sitting on a layer of sweet crab and drizzled with a light curry sauce. Apparently it tasted divine.
My vegetarian version was a Trompette courgette – raspberry/ pequillos/ yellow courgette. It translated into thinly sliced courgette piled on top of each other, more reminiscent of a carpaccio dish. The dish was finished off with a tempura courgette flower and a delicate jus of raspberry and pequillo pepper Each bite came with a slight crunch which gave it a great texture.
This is one of the things I love about fine dining. The host of mini plates served to tantalise your tastebuds in preparation for your own choices from the menu. Or perhaps I’m just greedy! Hallelujah to the non stop conveyor belt of gastronomy.
The bread selection was on point too with aniseed, chestnut, granary and Parmesan and sunflower baguettes on offer. Along with the seaweed butter, which I could have eaten as a dish in its own right. I was in bread and butter heaven.
Finally it was time for our starters, Mr S went for a very impressive looking one. Australian black truffle – breme onion/ chive. The whole onion is salt baked slow & low in hay at 110 celsius for an hour. Once the waiter showed it off in its whole baking glory, it’s quickly whisked off for preparation…
and presented as a plate of thin layers of onion on a lovely chive and truffle sauce, topped generously with shavings of Australian black truffle. I tried the dish and was blown away. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m really not partial to onions, but this was the sweetest I had ever tasted. The earthy, musky flavour of the truffle just added another glorious dimension to the dish.
When I first saw my starter I initially thought they’d made a mistake. It looked like a piece of meat! On closer inspection it was the Aubergine – harissa/ gomasio.
The soft texture of the soy marianted and pan-fried aubergine was a superb. The crispy sesame topping along with the hit of heat from the harissa was superb.
You know the saying don’t judge a book by its cover, well it truly applied to my main. I stuck with the truffle theme and ordered the Australian black truffle – girolles/ fresh almond/ spelt. On sight the pile of soil aka delicious truffle topping and the al dente spelt was simple but divine. I will be going back for this dish alone! Niren and Mo had the dish as their starter and echoed the same over the top sentiments.
Mr S continued with Wild turbot – spinach/ verbena/ seaweed butter. The pretty looking dish received a big thumbs up.
Niren opted for a perfectly cooked fish dish too Wild seabass – tumeric/ leek/ parsley.
The Welsh organic lamb ‘Rhug estate’ – Houmous/ Kombu/ Lemon which Mo opted for came from the largest organic Welsh farm in Corwen. From the look on her face as she tucked into the succulent dish she was in lamb heaven.
You’d think by now we’d have reached our peak. Oh no. None of us could resist the cheese trolley we kept spying whizzing around the room. It was only fair to try the delights on offer.
We shared a cheese plate from a superb selection of British and French cheese – from vintage Comte, blue, goats and ewe’s milk cheese.
Surely no room for dessert? Erm. We ended up sharing two desserts between the four of us the Vanilla Tuile/ Isigny cream/ rum with a pick your own fragrance option from Mauritius, India or Madagascar. We left it up to the chef to decide and he kindly let us try all three.
The second plate was White peach – redcurrant/ vanilla/ almond.
The desserts were lovely but nothing to write home about, but then again I’m more savoury than sweet. The rest of the food consumed that evening, however, was exquisite. A word I don’t throw around lightly, but quite apt here.
Service was friendly and charming from beginning to end adding to the refreshing relaxed vibe the restaurant exuded. With a history of almost 40 years, I feel that The Greenhouse is an old-timer still going strong. It’s not cheap, but this is definitely one to keep in your back pocket for a special occasion.
Do you remember a meal that has blown you away? Let me know in the comments box below.
The Greenhouse 7A Hay’s Mews | London | W1J 5NY
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