Restaurant: Hotel Chantelle
Where is it: Just off Oxford Street, in the shadow of Selfridges
Opened: June 2015
The concept: Spawned from the renowned New York-based establishment, Hotel Chantelle is a restaurant, late-night haunt and Sunday brunch spot, partnered with the glitzy Bonbonniere night club that lurks underground, tucked away in the heart of Oxford Circus.
What kind of food: French fine dining meets conceptual, modern American fare
The interiors: After entering from a dark, nightclub-like entrance, diners wind their way up to a small restaurant/bar area lit by trendy filament light bulbs and embellished with quirky murals and abstract canvases. Although mostly windowless, there are two small outside areas, one of which offers great photo ops with hanging lanterns and quirky foliage-covered wall.
We tried: For starter we ordered the Surf & Turf and Tuna Tartare Cigar which were both presented with utmost elegance; the latter resembled an actual cigar - complete with ash tray and smoking dry ice, while the former, which was dotted with edible flowers, offered a surprisingly light but flavoursome start, with the caviar vinaigrette delivering just the right hit of saltiness.
For Mains we went for the two classic meat dishes: the Rack of Lamb and the Grilled Iberico Pork. In contrast to the artistic starters, the mains revealed a more classically fine-dining flair to Hotel Chantelle’s menu. A particular highlight was the lamb’s cinnamon and quinoa crust, which provided a satisfyingly sweet crunch alongside the meat’s fatty flavour, and partnered perfectly with the rich black garlic mash.
To finish we shared the Make-Your-Own Donuts, which were doused in sugar and cinnamon and plated next to pipettes and jars that contained three different fillings: chocolate, caramel and jam. The diner participation was a fun way to end the meal and certainly satisfied both our sweet tooth and our inner child.
Hero Dishes: The Green Beans with Peaches & Goats Cheese side was an unexpected hero dish, and worked perfectly with our mains.
And the drinks: As expected for a late-night venue, there was a well curated and colourful cocktail list on offer. I opted for the Libertine, which was a refreshing and not-too-sweet concoction of London dry gin, Strega, cucumber, lime and Fever Tree tonic, while my dining buddy was offered a bespoke cocktail using a base spirit of his choice (whisky), resulting in a lengthy preparation process that incorporated everything from flames and playing cards to clam shells…
The Small Print: While we enjoyed the fun concept, we felt that the pudding didn’t quite stand up to the culinary brilliance and intricacy of the other courses - not that this stopped us from finishing off every last morsel and consequently pipetting filling straight on to our spoon…