We’ve just come back from one of our best brunch experiences in London or anywhere else. Berners Tavern is located in Fitzrovia and supervised by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton of Pollen Street Social fame, and Phil Carmichael, who had previously worked under Atherton and earned a Michelin star for Gordon Ramsay‘s (who won 16 stars in total for his restaurants) Maze in Prague. Fitzrovia was up-and-coming some eight or ten years ago, but now seems to be on its way to become one of the hottest parts of town. We’ve even loved this area when there was little more to it then Charlotte Street and a few great clubs like the 100 Club, but lately we’ve been going there more and more often, enjoyed brunch at Lima or dinner at Hakkasan (both Michelin-starred), breakfast at the lovely Lantana, or a gorgeous plate of seafood at the outstanding Bonnie Gull. After our marvellous experience at the local Riding House Café’s sister, the Rail House Café (read our review here), we’re also planning on returning to the highly-ranked flagship Café, which we weren’t able to fall in love with on first sight.
You enter the Tavern through the impressive, high-ceilinged lobby of the boutique hotel inventor Ian Schrager’s Edition Hotel, but it’s still hard to avoid a wow-effect when you get to the main hall of the Tavern. It’s one of the most beautiful dining halls in town, in my view maybe the most splendid one. The enormous space feels impossibly warm and private. The baroque painting frames, which cover nearly every last inch of the gigantic walls, do hold a few actual oil paintings, but many of them are holding very modern photographs and other artwork, brilliantly avoiding a stuffed, stale museum atmosphere, but instead contributing to a stylish, modern vibe, that is emphasised further by many other elements such as the low, artsy chandeliers and the bar which has a shelf with bottles that are illuminated in golden colours.
The service is impeccable, with staff that are quick, dressed in elegant designer clothes, very knowledgeable, friendly, without ever being intrusive.
We ordered a double macchiato and a cortado (both up to scratch! In England!), while we were eyeballing the menu. After short deliberation we decided to go for oak smoked Scottish salmon and scrambled eggs (£15), avocado and two poached eggs on toast (£10) with an added portion of salmon (£6), and Colchester crab on rye, brown crab butter, lemon gel, pickled cucumber and celery (£20). We also ordered a Kale Mary (spicy Altos tequila, kale, lemon, and ginger ale), a play on Bloody Mary at a considerable but in our view good-value £14.
The food arrived after less than a quarter of an hour. We particularly liked the presentation of the crab on rye.
The salmon was pure perfection in terms of texture, taste, and looks. The avocado turned out to be more like a guacamole and very pleasant at that. We loved the nicely coloured scrambled eggs with just the right balance between runny and firm, and great colour. The highlight must have been the crab, which – in part thanks to the crab butter – was outrageously full of flavours and very creamy.
We’ll definitely be back soon. Then we’ll try out their famous official Saturday Brunch: Beef Wellington, truffle mash, spinach, mushrooms, Madeira sauce, at a very reasonable £70 for two (allow for a waiting time of 50 minutes). Friends told us that their lunch and dinner are also absolute winners. 5 out of 5 in our book.
!!! UPDATE 22.09.2018 !!! WE HAVE BEEN BACK FOR LUNCH RECENTLY AND THE SERVICE WAS OUTRAGEOUSLY BAD. FOOD ABOVE AVERAGE, BUT NOT SPECIAL.
If you’re looking for other restaurant reviews, check out our review of two-starred Lafleur in Frankfurt, Ekeberg Restaurant in Oslo, and Gruvelageret in Spitsbergen (it’s the closest you can get to the North Pole in fine dining, it’s just over 1,000 km away from there).