The term ‘hidden gem’ is oft bandied about. (Unlike the words ‘oft’ and ‘bandied’, which definitely should be resurrected into common parlance.) But Kitty Fisher's really does embody the term – it’s small, discreet, tucked away, and serves up food that far surpasses what you might expect from its unassuming air.
That said, I’m not sure it’s entirely accurate to call it ‘hidden’ any longer. From its trawl of five-star reviews to its famous clientele (David Cameron is a patron, but don’t let that put you off), Kitty Fisher's has had its fair share of the limelight since it opened.
Turning five this year, the restaurant has since proved it’s no flash in the pan, but rather a slow-cooking classic. It’s become the kind of place you now visit not to impress someone, but because you’re past the point of needing to impress anyone. Indeed, such has been its success that a sister restaurant, Cora Pearl, has been launched in Covent Garden.
At Kitty’s (we’re on first-name terms now), it’s the food that does the talking. The snacks definitely set the tone: Welsh rarebit is the ideal combination of crisp and goo, while the ham hock croquettes are good enough to force a re-order.
It’s the kind of place you visit not to impress someone, but because you’re past the point of needing to impress anyone
Line up the pork belly starter next and your arteries may start to make a hasty retreat. Perhaps safer, chose the tomato with creme fraiche and red onion – a symphony of sweet and sharp.
The kitchen, under the stewardship of head chef George Barson, boasts a custom-made wood grill, which is brought into good effect in everything from its butter that's topped with a jet-black onion ‘ash’ to the smoke-filled grilling of succulent rose veal loin.
The wine list – much like the restaurant – is small and approachable, with a few surprises in among old faithfuls.
Whether it’s a light bite at the window bar, or an all-night session in the basement, Kitty Fisher's manages to feel like a proper local restaurant – even though it’s in one of the wealthiest postcodes of the world’s most international city. That’s quite some achievement.
Kitty Fisher's, 10 Shepherd Market, Mayfair, London W1J 7QF; 020 3302 1661; kittyfishers.com