Located in the heart of Knightsbridge, on the ground floor of the Sheraton Park Tower Hotel, One-O-One Restaurant is headed up by critically acclaimed Chef Pascal Proyart. With a restaurant boasting the accolade of being named the Sixth Best Restaurant in Great Britain in The Sunday Times, hopes were high for something that little bit special. We would be dining on the specially created London Restaurant Festival menu priced at just £30 for three courses; an absolute steal for a restaurant of this pedigree.
As we enter the dining room, we cannot help but notice the inspiration behind the food. We could have easily been stepping onto the decks of Queen Mary 2 herself. One-O-One say it best: “Every detail of the restaurant is infused with the inspiration of the shoreline”. The light blue seats that wrap around the elongated room, shaped to look like the inside of a boat, rise up like an incoming tide to meet sandy beach walls. Looking out onto the cold streets of Knightsbridge through the wavy frosted glass, you would be excused for thinking you were laying serenely on a beach in Pascal’s home – a small fishing village on the Brittany coast. My dining companion for the evening, a very excited birthday girl (and also my sister) summed up the atmosphere bluntly: “”It’s like we are in a boat”.
Diving head first into the hugely impressive wine folder, it is no wonder they were only just awarded Notable Wine List 2012-2013 by the AA. With fish ahead, we settled for a crisp white that easily complemented all courses; the Chenin Blanc, Old Vines from South Africa. Even before the wine arrived, we were presented with an amuse bouche of truffle salmon with celeriac confit. The confit almost lifted off the plate it was so light, and paired with the salmon, it was a welcome treat to start off proceedings.
Now, you don’t always give bread a great deal of air time in a restaurant review, and least so the butter. One-O-One, however, provide a butter that commands such attention. Seaweed butter that, once spread on the tomato and olive foccacia fresh straight out the oven, made you sink into your seat. If you could sum up the taste of the sea in a single bite, that would come pretty close.
Before going into the first course, let me remind you that this set meal was just £30 a head. Now, hear this: wild Scottish scallops and foie gras for the sister and wild Norwegian red king crab ravioli for me. The king crab came poached on a bed of wilted spinach with sauce Americaine and parmesan foam. Although just the one, it was full to the brim with juicy crabby meat; full of flavour. A lot of ingredients in this starter but Chef Proyart let the food do the talking as the flavours of the crab infused all elements of the dish. The scallops, on the other hand, could have been a meal in themselves; cooked to perfection, as you would expect, and served with wild mushrooms, shallot confit and pinot noir matelote – strong in flavours and hugely gratifying to eat.
With three options to choose from for the main dish, and one of these being a beef dish, it was an easy choice for us to pick the two fish options, halibut and sea bass. The halibut unusually came with a prawn dumpling. An odd combination, you might think, to go with a fillet of fish, but the small bundle was a nice treat to wake up the taste buds. The halibut itself sat proudly on a bed of paimpol coco beans, cooked lovingly in a watercress cream veloute – a beautiful combination. On to the sea bass; what I think was the show stopper of the meal. The presentation alone would get 5 stars. It seemed a shame to spoil the craftsmanship that had gone into constructing this dish but with a small quenelle of olive tapenade balanced on a block of ratouille at the side, it seemed a good place to start. Although small, the flavour of the olive tapenade packed a strong punch and was offset perfectly with the juicy vegetables in the ratouille. The wild sea bass was presented with a deep golden crust on top that, once you broke through, revealed the bed of artichokes covered in tomato and cockles barigoule sauce hidden underneath.
Finally to dessert; the Brownies “coupe liegeoise” sounded like it would be a nice ending to the meal, and I was not quite sure what it meant but thought I would give it a go. The resulting dish was divine; brownies sat on a bed of crumbly honeycomb accompanied with the lightest ice cream I have ever tried, combining coffee, salt and caramel. Cheese was on offer for the other dessert with a rich truffle infused munster and one of my favourite cheeses, applewood, presented from an impressive cheese trolley. For food of this quality at prices this reasonable, it must only be London Restaurant Festival (plug over!).
London Restaurant Festival continues until October 15th. Book your festival menu by visiting the Bookatable LRF page here.
101 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7RN
Online booking available here
London Restaurant Festival 2012: 3 courses, £30pp