With its quintessentially British crescents, tree-lined streets and stucco mansions, Belgravia is one of London’s most beautiful neighbourhoods. Here, stone churches and secluded gardens can be found between some of the capital’s finest hotels, including The Lanesborough and The Berkeley. In August 2016, independent hotel The Hari opened on Chesham Place to great acclaim but it wasn’t until March this year that its restaurant il Pampero finally launched. Marrying traditional homemade Italian cooking with Belgravia glamour, il Pampero’s dishes are a sight to behold. Freshly made pappardelle pasta with native lobster, marinated wild boar casserole and salt-crusted sea bream are just a few of the standout plates on head chef Claudio Covino’s (previously of Novikov) excellent menu.
At 347 square feet, The Muse is the venue’s adaptable private dining room that can seat up to 24 guests along a solid oak table, or divide into two separate rooms of up to 10 and six people in each. Designed by renowned British designer Tara Bernerd and featuring an eclectic collection of artwork from celebrated artists such as Natasha Law and Adam Bricusse, this ultra-modern room is made particularly alluring by its fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides, which flood the room with light. Head here with colleagues and make the most of the room’s optional extras – including a state-of-the-art projector and plasma screen – for the most indulgent of working lunches.
Fans of St. James’ institution Matsuri, which closed at the end of 2016 after more than 20 years as a leader in high-end Japanese teppenyaki, will be pleased to know the venue has reopened on Bury Street as Ginza Onodera following a spectacular £2.5m refurbishment with Ryosuke Kishi still heading up the kitchen. Descend the statement staircase into a sleek, softly lit monochrome basement where a grand wine cabinet, slate walls and marble counters set the scene for traditional Japanese dishes free from the trendy fusion food that has dominated similar venues in recent years.
Choose from an extensive menu, with must-try creations such as Kobe beef robata yaki served with red miso truffle sauce, turbot Kobujime Usuzukuri – a traditional Japanese starter – and slow-cooked 15-hour duck confit. For groups of six or less, opt for one of three petite private dining rooms or enjoy a one-to-one experience with your own personal chef at their private counter. Similar to the private dining rooms, each counter offers a different Japanese cooking cuisine: sushi, teppenyaki or robata grill, enabling you and your guests to sample the very best of each specialty with guidance from the chef in front of you.
Situated in Fitzrovia, Mere is the highly anticipated first venture from Monica Galetti and her sommelier husband David. As you’d expect from a chef who spent more than 15 years working with Michel Roux Jr. at two Michelin-starred Le Gavroche in Mayfair, the menu combines seasonal produce and classic techniques to create irresistibly elegant dishes. But in Mere, which is named after Galetti’s mother Meredith and pronounced ‘Mary’, the chef is drawing on something she couldn’t draw on at Gavroche: her heritage.
From the bespoke Samoan artworks on the walls to the traditional New Zealand starter of ‘boil up’ spiced broth, Galetti’s Polynesian and Antipodean upbringing is celebrated with a contemporary twist. Modernity is a theme that runs throughout Mere, in fact, from the tasting menu designed to be shared to the private dining room seamlessly tucked away behind a glass door. Inside this beautifully formed alcove, with its curved banquette seating and understated interior colours of stone and sand, up to 10 guests can gather around a table with a window into the kitchen, thanks to the TV screen on one wall offering a live feed. Since opening in March, Galetti has often been at the helm in the kitchen, so don’t be surprised if it’s her hands you see on screen preparing your feast for the senses.