On leaving Green Park tube station on a Friday evening you’re swept away by the number of people walking around in expensive suits and designer dresses heading to exclusive (and probably slightly overpriced) clubs, pubs and restaurants.
There’s a clear waft in the air of frivolous spending and a ‘desire for the best’ without even knowing what the best is other than assuming the waiter/waitress or server behind a bar recommendations is as good as it gets.
But for one night, I was going to attempt to fit in to such a surrounding. Albeit, not going to the Ritz or to a truly expensive restaurant, I’m a student from Yorkshire not a daughter of a City banker after all. I was absolutely terrified, but, I had been ensured great service by the twitter account of Pescatori, an Italian and seafood restaurant, in which I had been engaged in a week long discussion with.
In my mind, I expected levels of food and service I had perhaps only experienced previously a couple of times in my life. It’s one of those parts of London, that unless you feel like pushing the boat out, folks like me normally avoid like the plague. But, on deciding to brave it, I had very high expectations.
So there I arrived, outside a restaurant in Dover Street, with white fairy lights wrapped around the hedge. The outside didn’t make me go wow, more just that’s nice. But my hopes and anticipation were still high.
On going inside we were met by wood paneling and a large collection of mirrors dotted throughout. A member of staff came to greet us, being very friendly, and asking if we wanted the table by the window – in which we agreed and took our seats. This table was perfect for me, not just because I could look out of the window and avoid having other diners watch me eat but also because it made it feel quite and peaceful.
There was a small wooden board on the table that had tomatoes on the vine placed on top of it, but, I didn’t know whether they were there for decorative purposes or to eat, so I stayed clear of them just in case. The table was set up for three people, which confused me a little bit if they had intended it for my reservation all along, but it was done very precisely. Napkins were folded identically and the cutlery placed well inside and the glasses were neatly aligned too. There was a small tea-light candle on the table, but nothing too extravagant or elegant and the lights were dimmed.
When booking we had said we would be attending for lobster Friday, so promptly the staff brought out the Prosciutto that would be coming with the meal, and decent it was too. However, they then managed to sting us with the ‘would you like any water for the table’ trick and the bottle of still water came to £4 on the bill (more than had a side of salad being ordered).
For a while there was a small amount of confusion, the lobster Friday menu was tucked away in a little stand and there was no indication given that it was there until we asked the staff if the menu was available somewhere. They successfully gave the impression that they didn’t want to promote their lobster Friday and instead try to encourage diners to go for other options (generally more expensive).
As we were making our minds up two different members of staff asked if we wanted any bread or olives to start. A little miscommunication, or perhaps, after being warned I was a reviewer they were just trying to be a little too attentive (or pushy sellers). We said no to both, a dessert is far more tempting than a starter, and bread always fills me up too much before my main even arrives.
We ordered a carafe of white wine, and while they were getting that a different gentleman came over and said about wine. We assumed this was them asking if we wanted to order any, we then had to quickly point out we’d already ordered some as he tried to take the wine glasses away. Again, it seems that communication got a little lost somewhere.
The mains arrived. I had really been looking forward to my Spaghetti all’aragosta – half a lobster with a tomato based sauce, lots of herbs and staple ingredients and, of course, spaghetti – and I wasn’t disappointed. The freshness of all the ingredients came through and the lobster chunks in it were wonderful and succulent. It was a decent sized portion, and was certainly enough to feel that I was satisfied. However, after going to my last seafood restaurant (Marisko) I was expecting the half lobster to be a similar size. It wasn’t. It was much smaller, and they could have got away with me not knowing had they not proudly presented the empty shell on top of my dish. I feel that wasn’t the best thought through idea for a chef in recent times.
My dining companion had decided they wanted to go for a rather rich toasted sandwich and chips. It doesn’t seem to be the kind of dish you would expect a restaurant in Mayfair to serve, but actually on arrival it was presented beautifully and looked like a good meal to get stuck into. The Club all’aragosta – a three tier toasted sandwich with lobster, salmon, creamy sauce and salad – was something that looked like it would involve being prepared to take quite a good bite. I’m glad I didn’t order it as I would have had to set about deconstructing it first. But all the same I was told that it was excellent and very tasty.
The atmosphere of the restaurant was great. Other diners seemed to be having a fantastic time and talking at the table didn’t seem to be breaking the silence or too hard to do – it was just right, and apart from staff keeping walking close by to see if we were finished every couple of minutes, it was continuing to be relaxing and peaceful.
We finished our mains and decided that a dessert was wanted. There were a lot of different choices available, and trying to decide between something chocolatey or fruity was a tough call. In the end we came to a conclusion, placed our orders and swiftly seen the appropriate cutlery be placed on the table.
I opted for the Torta di mirtilli – a baked blueberry cheesecake with little dollops of cream and fresh blueberries – a light dessert that wasn’t too sweet and sat well after the main in which I had just consumed. However, the menu didn’t actually specifically say it was a baked cheesecake so when that sort turned up I was a little surprised and sadly a little disappointed. While I like all types of cheesecake I was expecting the crunchy based and more firmly set type.
My companion opted for something he hadn’t tried before – Gnocchi di latte – sweet dumplings with glazed rum. When it arrived it looked interesting and reminded me of orange segments. There was a whole strawberry on the dish and there was the thing that annoys me most about people serving them, not taking the leaves off. I looked at it and all I could think is that this restaurant is supposed to be in Mayfair serving decent food and they haven’t bothered to take the leaves off. It adds nothing to the dish and just makes it a little more effort for the diner to go about eating. I had a little taste of the dessert and it reminded me of warm set custard with just a small hint of the rum, I wouldn’t have been that impressed had I chosen that, but my companion seemed pleased enough.
After we had finished and as we were finishing off our drinks, the lady that originally seen us to our seats brought over a small glass of limoncello to finish off the meal. It certainly helped to cleanse the palette, but it was very strong and that on top of the alcohol already consumed during the meal it certainly meant when I left my head was spinning a little.
When I was paying my companion felt he was being judged for not footing the bill, however, I’m the person with a small restaurant obsession and therefore if I want to pay he shouldn’t be judged for not doing so. Perhaps the person in charge of the card machine didn’t do it intentionally, but it certainly put a little atmosphere downer on the whole thing.
Overall, it was a good night and the atmosphere was great. I’d give the food 4 out of 5, the atmosphere 4 out of 5 but the staff a 2 out of 5. Over attentiveness to the point of asking the same questions as other members, not communicating over wine orders, the fact one assumed my companion (good at pronouncing many words in front of him) wouldn’t be able to pronounce the wine correctly and the situation when paying really let them down. Leaving the overall opinion as 3 out 5.
Should you want to book and visit Pescatori or see their menus, you can do so on their website.