Scott's restaurant in London hasn't been short of attention since it reopened in December. Gaby Huddart went along to see what all the fuss is about
Since its relaunch in December, the new-look Scott's restaurant in London's Mayfair has attracted every major restaurant critic and hundreds of column inches in the newspapers.
Moreover, not a service goes by without at least a smattering of famous faces bagging some of its 120 seats or perching on stools at its oyster bar. On my own few visits there, I've spotted such luminaries as Leonardo di Caprio, Jeffrey Archer, Mick Jagger, Margaret Thatcher, David Linley and Don Johnson.
As it's owned by Caprice Holdings, the company behind celebrity magnet the Ivy, perhaps its popularity with the glitterati and the media is only to be expected. But Scott's is far from being a carbon copy of its sister restaurant and has a style all its own.
In terms of its looks, it's a very beautiful style indeed. Between £3m and £5m is rumoured to have been spent on the refurbishment of the site, which housed the original Scott's restaurant from 1968 when it relocated here until its closure in 2004. Designer Martin Brudnizki has created a glamorous and sophisticated interior, featuring leather banquettes, mirrored walls and an impressive collection of contemporary art.
At the centre of it all is a 3m-long crustacean display, piled high with ice and a spectacular selection of seafood, which whets the appetite for an extensive menu that focuses on top-quality fish, cooked by head chef Kevin Gratton and his 28-strong brigade.
A broad variety of simply served crustaceans are offered to start, including a fruits de mer platter for two (£26.50 per person), lobster mayonnaise (£19.25/£39.50 half/whole), and whole cock crab (£15.75). Alternatively, hot starters include griddled scallops with chilli and garlic (£15.25), tiger prawns piri-piri (£14.75), eel with parsley potatoes and horseradish cream (£13.75) or, for those with more carnivorous tastes, wood pigeon on toast with hedgehog mushrooms (£9.50).
The frequently changing menu will tend to offer a selection of about six meat main-course options, such as rump of Glencoe venison with pan haggerty and sour cherries (£19.50) or Glen Fyne rib steak with béarnaise sauce and chips (£26.50). But typically some 20 fish main courses are offered, underscoring that seafood is the raison d'être of the restaurant.
Wild halibut (£24.75), pan-fried slip soles with brown shrimp butter (£19.50) and smoked haddock with colcannon, poached egg and grain mustard (£16) are popular options, with daily changing fish of the day reflecting the seasonal availability of varieties such as John Dory, brill and turbot.
Side dishes are ordered separately and include the likes of buttered charlotte potatoes (£3.50), braised fennel with olive oil (£4.25) and steamed, buttered or creamed spinach (£4.75).
Desserts continue the theme of good quality ingredients simply handled, including rhubarb ripple ice-cream served with a shortbread biscuit (£5.75) and Bakewell pudding with almond ice-cream (£6.75).
Meanwhile, a separate vegetarian menu is offered for those who eat neither meat nor fish, with duck's egg with wild sea vegetables (£7.25) and wild chicory and shaved fennel salad with Gorgonzola (£8.75) among the eight starters, and morel risotto (£21.50) and linguine pomodoro (£11.25) among the six mains.
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner every day and is currently serving an average of 150-160 customers at lunch and 200 at dinner.
What's on the menu
- Shellfish bisque with wild chervil, £7.25
- Baby squid and sea purslane with fried duck's egg, £9.25
- Shellfish cocktail, £15.75
- Fillet of sea trout with buttered sea beets and surf clams, £23.50
- Pan-fried skate and periwinkles with nut brown butter and capers, £17.50
- Shrimp burger with winter slaw and spicy tartare sauce, £14.75
- White chocolate cheesecake with griotte cherries, £6.75
- Russet apple pie with clotted cream or custard, £6.50
- Sussex pond pudding to share, £15
Scott's, 20 Mount Street, London W1K 2HE. Tel: 020 7495 7309www.scotts-restaurant.com