I have had two jobs in Knightsbridge and I’ve often walked past The Lanesborough Hotel and admired the grandeur and exclusivity of the building. Last year the hotel reopened after a 19 month refurbishment, which cost around 60 million pounds. Needless to say, the interiors are suitably lavish and luxurious. I visited the hotel’s Céleste Restaurant last week, newly awarded with a Michelin star, to taste the food and have a sneaky peek at the new decor.
The dining room is magnificent, with a large central skylight, pale blue ornately decorated walls and an elevated seating area. There is also a private dining room for up to 14 guests for special occasions. With a reservation at noon, we were first to arrive in the restaurant, so I had the opportunity to wander round and explore every beautiful detail.
The food is overseen by Eric Frechon, the three-star chef from Le Bristol in Paris. Everything is carefully served and presented by the organised and friendly waiting staff. We started with a glass of bubbly and some delicious bite-sized canapes.
There is a very reasonably priced 3 course lunch menu available everyday for £35 per person. Keen to try the specialities of the season, we chose from the a la carte menu, which is filled with irresistible recipes. I opted for the oven baked celeriac with crushed black truffle and comte extra vieux millesime. It was a seemingly simple dish, but on the plate, a carefully prepared combination of lovely textures and subtle flavours made it truly delicious. Light and delicate, I could have eaten a second serving. The sauteed squid with black ink porridge and red wine sauce was much heavier but equally delicious, a thick starchy base with tender pieces of seafood.
We struggled to choose from the array of main course options, but eventually decided on brown hare with peppercorn, and lamb with jerusalem artichokes and goat’s curd. Both plates were strikingly arranged, with the sauces served on the side. The lamb was nicely cooked with complementing woody artichokes, black garlic and creamy smooth goat’s curd mousse. Hare seemed like a sensible choice during game season, and the saddle was richly seasoned with spicy peppercorn. I loved the flavoursome braised shoulder tortellone which was topped with a decadent piece of foie gras.
One of the experienced sommeliers looked after us throughout the meal, serving the finest complementing wines to taste with each course. The unique choices were unusual but delicious pairings that made us appreciate the food at Céleste even more.
Desserts were another highlight, we sampled three from the menu: pear with honey and spices, Guanaja chocolate with cashew nut and coffee bean, and pineapple with pina colada mousse and sorbet. The exotic pineapple dish was a work of art with finely crafted sugar in the shape of a pineapple, which cracked open to reveal tropical mousse and cream. The sophisticated cocoa dessert is perfect for chocolate lovers of all ages, with a subtle hint of coffee and a lovely warmth from the cashew nuts. My favourite though was the understated pear with honey, a beautifully balanced pudding, which cleansed the palate and satisfied my need for a sweet hit.
Although we were the first to arrive at Céleste for lunch, we were nearly the last to leave. I savoured every moment of our meal here, and hope to return to this magnificent dining room for another regal meal soon.
More information and book a table at Céleste Restaurant here.