Casa Cruz, Holland Park

After dinner at recently opened Isabel in Mayfair, we love it so much, it makes us book Juan Santa Cruz‘s first restaurant in West London called Casa Cruz. And surprisingly, we manage to bag a table, albeit early, on a Friday night.

We’re the first to arrive, after a 10 minute walk from Holland Park tube. The houses en route are something else – there’s serious money in this area. There’s a doorman in a hat and pretty ladies once you step inside. The dining room is small but stunning. All dark wood and copper – and there’s a huge deer head on the wall.

The menu of sharing dishes seems larger and more expensive than Isabel. We start with burrata, roast tomatoes and basil (£16) and it’s lush. To be fair, I’m yet to find a burrata I haven’t fallen in love with. The best ones always come with a simple side of tomatoes IMO.

Avocado, basil, chilli (£7) is a side dish which we more than enjoy eating on its own. Roast domino potatos (£8) alone aren’t quite as enjoyable however; they have burnt edges and there’s not quite enough seasoning.

Gnocchi (£21) comes with ribbons of veal ragu and parmesan in abundance – it’s the sort of thing I’d like to eat at a bus stop in the pouring rain. Pure comfort. Raw tuna, wasabi, avocado (£19) is far lighter yet brings equal joy. So pretty too.

Suckling lamb shoulder (£40) is a delicate piece of meat with a subtle flavour due to the lamb’s age. We’re offered it on or off the bone and it arrives the opposite of what we ask for. Who cares. It’s a cracking piece of meat.

For dessert, we share the souffle (£14) which is a fine specimen. The soufflé is light and fluffy then you get hit with a wallop of armagnac soaked prunes and armagnac ice cream – it’s the perfect pud.

As we leave Casa Cruz, it feels like the party is only just getting started. The blinds come down and the locals pile in. There’s a roof terrace upstairs which is equally as gorgeous. It’s one of the most expensive meals we’ve had of late but if you like a bit of glamour, there are few better places to spend it.

Would we go back? Yes.

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