The Pantechnicon is part of the ever growing Cubitt House group which includes other Belgravia favourites, The Thomas Cubitt and The Orange along with The Grazing Goat in Marylebone. All were once pubs that have been transformed into rather smart pubs with dining rooms.
The Pantechnicon is my favourite of the group as the menu is the best by far, and its home, Motcomb Street, is an idyllic escape from the bustle of Knightsbridge and Belgrave Square. More of a mews than a street, Motcomb Street has one of the best summer street parties in London and every shop is a boutique offering the finest in its field; even Waitrose offered shoppers champagne on its opening day.
Although it calls itself a pub, most people come The Pantechnicon to eat, where you can do so informally in the bar downstairs (no bookings) or in the dining room on the first floor. We were booked in upstairs where lunch offers a clubby feel with its comfortable studded leather chairs and calm atmosphere.
The menu is tremendous, offering a selection of steaks and great starters including Carlingford rock oysters, chilli salt squid, steak tartare and a Sussex Slipcote cheese soufflé, each of which had me wishing I could order them all. In the interest of an authentic review we ordered what we would not have done ordinarily, rather than the safety of habit. I opted for the hand-dived Scottish scallops with Wiltshire truffles, cauliflower and girolles and my companion insisted on the seared cured sea trout, prawns with pea mousse and fennel. The scallops were perfectly cooked and were deliciously offset by the rich earthy cauliflower puree and truffle. The sea trout was declared so good that not only did I not get a taste, but there was concern that I would not be able to put into words just how tasty it really was. So that was an encouraging start.
The main courses can be as casual as a burger and fish and chips or as refined as a saddle of rabbit or a slow cooked beef bavette. We ordered the corn fed chicken and heirloom tomato salad and the grilled lemon sole with samphire. The golden filets of sole were excellent and although we found the samphire weedy compared to the Norfolk samphire we had known from our childhoods, the dish was delicious and The Pantechnicon should be known as much for its fish as for its outstanding starters. The chicken and salad was a triumph and made my companion feel satisfied and healthy until he finished the thin chips that he ordered on the side.
In an attempt to be healthy, we chickened out of ordering puddings, but on another occasion there’s no doubt my choice would have been a queen of puddings with lemon curd, especially as it is a Jubilee Year, while the chocolate orange cake with chocolate sorbet would tempt any chocoholic off the wagon and into choccywoccydoodah.