Eat: Marcus Wareing (Lancashire Hot Pot)
There was a Scotsman (Gordon Ramsay), a Welshwoman (Angela Hartnett) and an Englishman (Marcus Wareing) and they all lived happily together in a pressure cooker called Gordon Ramsay Holdings (GRH). Wareing joined Ramsay’s Aubergine in 1993, where he became Sous Chef and after running the Grill Room at the Savoy Hotel, Wareing opened Petrus for GRH at the Berkeley Hotel and quickly gained two Michelin stars. Then one day the Englishman decided that he wanted out. The Scotsman huffed, and he puffed, but he couldn’t blow the Englishman’s house down and he reopened Petrus as Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley.
“If I never speak to that guy again for the rest of my life, it wouldn’t bother me one bit. I wouldn’t give a fuck!” said Marcus of Ramsay (his erstwhile best man) in a recent interview.
Anyway enough of the gossip! What about the restaurant. The room is dark, opulent and somehow unearthly, which makes the whole experience seem like a muffled dream. Thank god for the front of house staff, who are as down to earth as the Lancashire man in the kitchen, and manage to restore an air of normality – this is very Haute but never haughty.
There is no doubt that Wareing is a technically gifted chef and is surely on his way to three stars (although Gordon is sticking pins in the voodoo as we speak). We experienced his:
Scallops and cod confit, cauliflower, macadamia nuts Fourme d’Ambert and white chocolate
Scottish lobster, poached, braised trotters, vanilla butter and roasted salsify
Rhug farm Welsh suckling pig cooked for twenty four hours, braised chicory, pommes mousseline
Salt Marsh lamb roasted, braised shoulder, caramelised shallot and fennel, confit tomato, saffron and lavender
Every element is complex and perfectly executed – but perhaps a little bit too polished (a bit to Michelin) if that is an acceptable criticism. Where is the Lancashire man? Where is the hot pot? Is he starring in Strictly Come Cheffing? Or is he effing and blinding at some hapless amateur chip fryer? Nope. Unusually the head chef is actually out-back quietly presiding over his brigade. Twinkly eyed and dashingly handsome it seems my star-struck dining partner has found her hot pot. Luckily for me stew is not on tonight’s menu!
The Berkeley, Wilton Place, London SW1X 7RL Tel: +44 (0)20 7235 1200