The Berkeley hotel, in Knightsbridge, has transformed a former car park into The Garden at The Berkeley, a gorgeous outdoor restaurant. There are real trees strewn with fairy lights. Generously spaced tables, each topped with an automated hand sanitiser dispenser. There’s music pumping loudly enough to feel fun but so you can hear yourself talk with it. On a balmy Thursday evening it feels like the South of France.
We start with small plates of grilled baby courgettes and charred padron peppers (Â£10.50), rainbow radishes with hummus and baba ganoush (Â£10.50) and a salad of watermelon, feta and vine tomatoes (Â£10.50). You’ll fine RosÃ© vibes galore here – we drink ChÃ¢teau La Coste, a vineyard with the same owner as the hotel. It’s rather nice.
Charred giant prawns (Â£19.25) are whopping things. The flesh charred and blistered from the grill whilst keeping soft and bouncy. Grilled lemon and lemon mayo are the perfect bedfellows.
Saganaki (Â£14) is a greek cheese which comes sizzling in its own super-hot cast iron dish. Cherry tomatoes and pomegranate seeds burst their sweet and sharp juices all over the place. It’s a gorgeous blend of flavours.
Other bits from the grill like young chicken with chimichurri (Â£26.25), sardines with lemon and rock salt (Â£18.30) and octopus with lemon aioli (Â£24.50) have spot-on cooking. It’s simple food with an emphasis on quality ingredients, like a 500g t-bone steak (Â£38.50) with its aged, crisp fat. I do love me some crispy beef fat.
For pud, you can go for an ice cream in a cone (Â£7); montebianco pistachio and caramelised rippled banana are the night’s highlights, or, an apricot and almond tart (Â£8.75) which has all the chew and goo of clafoutis.
The best bit of The Garden at The Berkeley is its location: down a sleepy cul-de-sac and opposite the stunning St Paul’s Church. It has the perfect balance of buzz and seclusion. While a holiday abroad seems a distant memory, this is just the tonic.
We dined as guests of the restaurant