Restaurateur and club owner Richard Caring opened this elegant, top-end restaurant in November 2011. It is a member of Caprice Holdings, which also includes The Ivy, Le Caprice, Scott’s, J Sheekey and Sexy Fish, which opened in October 2015.
It’s true that 34 is a “modern-day classic”. Ascending steps to the raised ground floor restaurant, doormen welcome you into a glamorous Neverland where everyone is polished and coiffed, soft jazz elevates the spirits, and silverware softly clinks amid soothing waves of conversation.
The something Golden Age about it, with its burnt orange leather banquettes, the grand piano in the corner and the little lamps set on every table. (The interior design is by Martin Brudnizki, who also did Sexy Fish and The Ivy, taking inspiration from English, Edwardian and art deco styles.)
We are welcomed by a dapper female maître d’ who directs us first to the bar for an aperitif (we are early and are waiting for a third guest), before organising for a waiter to deliver us to our table when we are ready. Place settings sport crockery inscribed with pink 34s, sparkling silverware, linen napkins bound with silver rings and green leather-backed menus. Freshly baked bread arrives in copper bowls. Note that there is a £2 cover charge, free wifi and “doggy bags” available.
Unveiled at the end of 2013 and located on the first floor, is the Emin Room for private dining. Seating up to 60 people for lunch or dinner or 80 for cocktails, it has a dedicated marble-topped bar, lounge area, oak-panelled walls, deep red leather chairs and artwork in the form of charcoal drawings and neon installations by Britain’s Tracey Emin.
In 2014, to celebrate Kate Moss’s 40th birthday, 34 Mayfair decided to honour her by commissioning British artist Jane McAdam Freud to craft a champagne coup modeled on the supermodel’s left breast. “The result is a beautiful glass that playfully pays homage to Kate, her beauty, her femininity and her seminal status,” reads the website. You can buy a pair of glasses for £340 or enjoy sipping from one at the bar.
The house champagne is non-vintage Gyéjacquot (£14.75 a glass), while non-vintage Ruinart Blancs de Blancs is available for £19.75 (served in the Kate coupe). Bottles start from £65, going up to £8,000 for a magnum of Dom Perignon “Oenotheque” Rose 1985 (disgorged 2006).
Wine starts from £6.75 a glass, with the added option of 125ml superior serves from the Coravin. For example, you can try the 2009 Chablis “Valmur” Grand Cru for £100 a glass (this costs £580 a bottle). The most expensive wine on the list is the 1983 Le Pin, Pomerol, for £20,000 a magnum. There are lots of French and Italian labels, but a good selection of New World wines as well.
I didn’t try a cocktail but the menu is tempting and sophisticated – 34 does a Classic Bloody Mary, an Elderflower and Dill Bellini, a Royal Berber Tea with Remy Martin XO, English breakfast tea, mint, rose and pomegranate (£9.75-£15). Innovative ingredients range from oakmoss syrup and lavender bitters to pine essence and germanium purée.
Surprising for a more traditional kind of high-end restaurant, is the fact that 34 has an open kitchen. It’s not obtrusive though, like some places that are brightly lit and fitted out with surgical steel surfaces. This one melds in quite nicely with the surroundings.
One of the highlights is the “parrilla” grill, which was custom-made in Argentina and is used to cook beef (Scottish dry-aged grass-fed, Australian Wagyu and US prime corn-fed from Creekstone Farm), as well as game, fish and shellfish.
As well as starters and mains, the a la carte menu is divided into sections covering asparagus, raw, salads, steak and fish. The food is contemporary European, but not overly fussy, which I like. Everything is really well presented, delicious and beautifully prepared. There is also a good-value, three-course seasonal set menu for £27.50, as well as a menu for brunch and vegetarian dishes.
I have a friend who always has the shrimp cocktail and steak frites, but I decided to begin with a fresh butter leaf salad with avocado, Gorgonzola and champagne dressing (£10.50), before moving on to the rich, cream, cream lobster macaroni topped with crisp melted cheese and shaved black truffle (£32). It’s a “perennial favourite”, apparently, and I can appreciate why.
My companions ordered up Burrata and raff tomato salad (£14), pea and sorrel soup (£8.50), blackened yellowfin tuna (£25) and fillet of John Dory with sauce gribiche (£26.50) – this last was raved about. Sides include purple sprouting broccoli with chilli and almonds (perfect with the macaroni), spinach with garlic and olive oil, and creamed sweet corn.
Desserts are sumptuous and comforting – think banoffee pie sundae, Bramley apple pie, vanilla cheesecake, cinnamon doughnuts and chocolate fondant.
Faultless. I felt comfortable and well looked after. 34 is formal but you can still have a chat with the waiters – they aren’t snooty.
34 is a bit of a gem – convivial, exclusive and, these days, under-the-radar. While everyone else is getting in a twist about trying to get a table at Sexy Fish, this chic restaurant is quietly getting on with serving excellent food to those not obsessed with “being seen”. I couldn’t recommend it more.
- OPENING HOURS Open 12pm-1am Mon-Fri and 11.30am-1am Sat, 11.30am-11.30pm Sun.
- PRICES £8.50-£18.50; mains £18.50-£78; sides £4.75-£5.50.
- CONTACT 34 Mayfair, 34 Grosvenor Square (entrance on South Audley Street, just north of Reeves Mews); tel +44 (0)20 3350 3434; 34-restaurant.co.uk