Venetia van Kuffeler dines at Blakes Restaurant
Since opening as one of the world’s first luxury boutique hotels by design guru Anouska Hempel in 1978, Blakes Hotel in South Kensington has been synonymous with chic and discretion. This year, the ground floor 007 and 008 suites have been transformed into the hotel’s new restaurant, and what a transformation it’s been! The 57 seat restaurant with adjoining bar has been inspired by Hempel’s vision of a beautiful old-fashioned steamer sailing up the Bosphorus, evoking the spirit of travel always associated with her work. All black lacquer, low lighting and mirrors, the elegant atmosphere is reflected through the restaurant’s furniture and accessories that were found by Hempel herself during years of far-flung travel.
Managed by the charming Davide Carli, Blakes Restaurant is a ‘cocktail kind of place,’ and he advised us to try the Tokyo Drift mixed with Belvedere, St Germain, lemongrass, aloe vera, lime juice and a touch of agave (for me), and Blakes’ take on the negroni (for him). Refreshing and crafted to perfection, neither drink lasted long.
The Mediterranean influenced menu offers a selection of carefully crafted dishes curated by head chef Peter Del Campo, who has been at Blakes for eight years. Demonstrating an emphasis on seasonal, wild ingredients, guests are treated to whole globe artichokes as an amuse bouche, accompanied by bowls of truffle mayonnaise and olive oil. Pulling the flesh off the leaves with our teeth, and devouring the heart was a delightful start to a meal. A taste of the things to come…
Keen to demonstrate what his kitchen is capable of, Davide presented us with Sicilian red prawn carpaccio with tomato seeds and chilli cress. Marbled, sweet and fatty, this was an epic start to the meal. We chose soft-shell crab and nahm-jim, coriander, chilli and lime, along with buffalo ricotta ravioli with Norcia black truffle to start. An explosion for the taste buds, the crunchy crab was perfectly complemented by the sharp and tangy sauce. The ravioli was soft, delicious and beautifully buttery to taste.
A house speciality, the black cod with courgette flower, miso and tahini was one of the best plates I’ve tasted in months. Absolute perfection. Equally, my husband spoke in raptures about his charcoal-grilled Pluma Bellota Iberico with padron peppers and wild chicory. Succulent and similar to wagyu beef, the meat was cooked medium-rare, enhancing its sweet nutty taste.
For pudding, we shared the mille-feuille with green tea and vanilla cream and Canadian maple toffee, which was as tasty as it was exquisite to look at. We had eaten well.
When dining at Blakes, every aspect from design and ambiance to the plates themselves is put together with exceptional craftsmanship and detail. Dark and mysterious, Blakes Restaurant is the perfect place for a special occasion or evening of fun. Whatever your agenda, it is a place to take someone you are keen to impress.
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