THE BLOG

Say Hello Again to the Greenhouse

21/05/2013 11:46 BST | Updated 21/07/2013 10:12 BST

Despite the fact I've spent hours of my career traipsing along Mayfair streets en route to the Dorchester hotel for press junkets, making my way through the pretty urban garden to The Greenhouse was a bit of a surprise.

You can feel the villagey nature of London's most expensive neighbourhood in the mews houses that surround it, even if the clientele are mostly clad in expensive suits of city folk. But while I have a tendency to shy away from places packed full of financiers, the airy yet intimate environs of Michelin-starred The Greenhouse means it feels comfortable and even cosy.

My dining companion and I stopped in for lunch and one of the most impressive things about the front of house staff was how sympathetic and amenable they were to my partner's advanced pregnant state. In some high-end establishments, there's a slight sniffiness to a swollen belly, as if you should be at home eating crisps rather than being out enjoying posh nosh. Not so here. We were told butter was pasteurised, which amuse-bouche to stay away from, even the idea of lamb having to be cooked a little bit further through didn't ruffle feathers.

Luckily, I was able to enjoy alcohol - a tangy glass of champagne followed by a fragrant, creamy white. This was accompanied by intriguing tasters. A mushroom meringue suggested a flavour then was gone, the kitchen's skill with jellification gave us a chicken Caesar salad in something that felt like it was created by Willy Wonka.

But it was once we got on to the food proper that things got really exciting. A pre-starter of Cornish crab with a hint of curry, mint jelly and a cauliflower sauce was delicious, not least because the chef didn't scrimp on the meat.

For our starters, my langoustines tasted of the seaside, with a subtle lemon flavour punching through. Orkney scallops were just as enjoyable, fat tandoori-tinged discs alongside crunchy asparagus.

Mains were plentiful (none of that minimalist nonsense here) and beautifully presented. My Brixham sea bass was given another citrus burst thanks to yuzu, while the chlorophyll-coloured polenta worked perfectly alongside it. My guest's lamb came with delicious sauce and the effective addition of hummus.

By that point we were done - it was lunchtime after all - but were told sternly that we weren't allowed to leave until we'd tried pudding. Jelly once again came to the fore, strawberry-flavoured this time, containing a cool wild strawberry ice cream with more wild berries themselves dotting the plate. It was the perfect palate-clearing end to a spectacular meal.

Tucked away in its moneyed idyll, The Greenhouse is not exactly positioned to catch foot traffic. But it deserves it, because this is one of the best meals I've ever had in London. It may not be attention-grabbing or new or require you to stand outside in a line or eat with your hands, but the setting is beautiful, the staff brilliant and the food fantastic. And that's what I ask of a great restaurant. Treat yourself.

Set lunch menu - 3 courses £29

A la carte menu - 3 courses £75

www.greenhouserestaurant.co.uk