It’s remarkable that somewhere like Mayfair – so central, so old and so compact – could still harbour secrets, but it can and does, even on bustling roads like Half Moon Street. Flemings has been a hotel since 1851, yet it seems to be hiding in broad daylight – no cavernous atrium or gaudy frontage here. Inside, every swathe of lush fabric, square foot of marble floor and panel of textured wood whispers expensively sexy luxury – right through to Ormer Mayfair, Shaun Rankin’s seasonal fine-dining restaurant.
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A sort of suited-and-booted, urbanite version of its Michelin-starred Jersey namesake, Ormer is as much a reflection of Rankin’s culinary philosophy as the original. Whether you hit the à la carte or the seven-course tasting menu, Rankin creates dishes that leap off the page (the idea of jerusalem artichoke velouté with artichoke toffee and homemade brioche has us panting) and properly deliver (it’s a cloud of feathery-light truffled artichoke, floating on an almost custardy base, with heavenly creamy-sweet-truffley-umami flavours).
Pine nut crusted turbot with charred cauliflower and sea vegetables is both delicate and complex, and looks devilishly handsome, while the roast rabbit loin that precedes it, wrapped in pancetta and served with morels, peas and truffle gnocchi, might be better, even, than it sounds. We’d have thrown away the cutlery and attacked it with our bare hands in less-refined surroundings.
Dessert – blood orange sorbet, rhubarb and meringue with fragments of what taste like highly evolved custard creams – is good without being blockbuster. It is, though, like Flemings, plenty of fun and pretty as hell.
One final tip for your bank of Mayfair secrets: if you’ve yet to discover Manetta’s Bar – right next to Ormer in the bowels of Flemings – you owe it to yourself to address that, PDQ. Dark, bijou and with a grown-up cocktail list, it’s the kind of place we wouldn’t blab about if we didn’t like you. The secret’s out, now – share it wisely.
7-12 Half Moon Street, W1J 7BH; 020 7016 5601; slh.com/flemingsmayfair