Located in The May Fair Hotel, part of Edwardian Hotels London, May Fair Kitchen re-launched in May last year, transforming its north European meat and fish-based menu to a Mediterranean sharing plates concept, offering simple but hearty Italian and Spanish fare.
WHERE IS IT?
On the ground floor of The May Fair Hotel on Stratton Street, a five-minute walk from Green Park underground station.
The restaurant’s décor is a good reflection of its new informal, convivial concept, with various seating options on offer from long, banqueting booths to intimate tables of two and four. The lighting is warm and atmospheric with brass piping fitted with filament bulbs overhead and copper crane lamps installed on large wooden balustrades across the restaurant.
Tables made from raw wooden slabs and white and black marble are dotted across the space, while in the far corner an open kitchen looks out across the restaurant. Next to this, there is a glass cupboard filled with fresh seasonal vegetables and cured Spanish ham, with dark wooden lattice screens dividing the restaurant into more intimate spaces. In the centre of the restaurant, a DJ pumped out relaxed, ambient and electronic tracks. There is a bar and lounge area behind some of the lattice screens, offering a number of small tables and sofa seating.
While I waited for my companion, I enjoyed a glass of Sancerre (£18), which was smooth and delicious, especially with the succulent green olives that I ordered alongside. We moved onto a bottle of the “Bianchi Grilli” Pecorino (£54) afterwards which was dryer with a light, floral nose, and a good choice to counter the strong base flavours of the heavier sharing plates.
Our waiter recommended a selection of eight to nine plates to share between two, so we went for nine for good measure. This was sufficient, though the dishes arrived in lots of threes and fours and in quick succession, so I would advise asking staff to stagger delivery with more time between “courses”.
First up was the burrata pugliese topped with baby basil and San Marzano tomatoes (£12) – a perfectly formed ball of cheese served with herbs and crunchy tomato segments, all drizzled with fragrant olive oil. As I sliced through the cheese, it burst with fresh, white filling, creamy and subtle in flavour and paired well with the crunch of the tomato.
Up next was a dish of grilled aubergine and goats’ cheese served with aged balsamic (£10). This was slightly less appealing in presentation but still tasty, with a complex blend of flavours from the charred aubergine to the tangy, acerbic balsamic, while the goats cheese coated the mouth with a tart, dominating aftertaste.
After this, we tucked into a dish of calamari (£10), served piping hot with a tureen of chilli lemon mayonnaise in almost equal size to that of the calamari. As a lover of condiments, I appreciated this. The batter was almost caramelised, both clingy and comforting, enhanced by the kick from the chilli aioli and a good contrast to the flavour of the squid.
No Spanish meal is complete without a dish of croquetas (£16), which were served here stuffed with Manchego cheese and Serrano ham. Doughy in texture, they were a good size and tasted strongly of Manchego with subtler hints of the cured meat. Lightly browned, they had been fried in fresh, clean oil and cooked till crisp.
Next was the king crab ravioli (£15), cooked al dente and soaked in a pool of butter, topped with slithers of roasted sage. The crab filling was fresh and meaty and a lovely combination to the silky butter sauce and the chewier pasta.
A nice contrast after this was the trio of gremolata crusted lamb cutlets (£22), which were extremely tender, coated with lashings of fresh parsley, garlic and lemon zest.
Our final dishes were from the sea – a brawny chunk of Chilean sea bass (£16) slathered in padron shiso salsa, gambas “al pil pil” (£10) and queen scallops with parsley gratin (£20). Of the three, the prawns were the main event, cooked simply but precisely with chunks of garlic that elevated the prawns’ natural flavour.
Served in their shells, the scallops were flaky in structure but juicy, braised in a lemony butter glaze and served with sea salt that cut through the initial richness. Sizeable and fresh, the sea bass was tender, filling and served in an olive oil sauce with shards of fresh parsley.
Despite the volume of food we consumed, we managed to find space for dessert, plumping for the white peach and oregano panna cotta (£9), warm Grand Marnier elixir with doughnuts (£9) and the chocolate fondant with amaretti and vanilla bean ice cream (£9), to share.
My favourite was the chocolate fondant, the filling of which oozed out of its crusty cake casing, rich and gunky, with velvety ice cream that balanced the strength of the chocolate. I enjoyed the presentation of the Grand Marnier elixir, served in a tiny milk bottle with a straw –a deliciously creamy, egg-nog-like tipple that was delicious with the sugarcoated doughnuts.
The panna cotta was slightly disappointing however, lacking the requisite gelatine so it seemed more like a posset than a panna cotta, with a dominant citrusy flavour. It was presented well though, with juicy mandarin segments, micro herbs and a shard of brittle, caramelised sugar.
Staff were friendly and attentive, offering good recommendations and showing good knowledge of the dishes.
A warm and lively venue with a well-curated selection of dishes – complex and varied with something for everyone. The variety of sharing plates makes it a versatile venue depending on your appetite, with dishes arriving quickly should you feel like trying more.
Fri-Sat 12pm – 11pm
Starters £6; antipasti £8-£18; salads £10-£14; pizza, pasta and risotto £10-£18; fish and seafood £10-£20; meat and poultry £10-£22; desserts £9. Wine from £9.50 by the glass and £34 from the bottle.
The May Fair Hotel, Stratton Street, London, W1J 8LT; +44 020 7915 3892; mayfairkitchen.co.uk