Peter Morrell samples the new ‘Best of British’ inspired menu in the restaurant of the boutique Arch Hotel in London
Many people on the foodie scene will recognise the name Henrietta Green. She has been a tireless food hero in the promotion of local British produce, her support of farmers markets and is the author of the much loved book ‘A Food Lover’s Guide to Britain’. Henrietta has been working closely with the Head Chef at Hunter 486, Gary Durrant. Together they have devised a new menu that showcases the quality of British food and it has been designed to let the natural flavours of the ingredients shine through.
Hunter 486 is located in the privately owned boutique Arch Hotel, a stone’s throw from Oxford Street. The public rooms are comfortable and have been stylishly decorated by the owners, the décor includes some very interesting art works and the atmosphere is more home from home than central London hotel. Each one of the 82 bedrooms has been individually designed and it attracts many returning guests both from the UK and abroad.
We perused the menu in the well appointed bar, enjoying drinks from the well curated cocktail list, a honeydew and lime bellini topped with Taittinger for my companion while I had the Bartender’s secret Coco Boudoir, a rich chocolatey concoction. Our first introduction to the food came in the form of the snack served with the drinks, home cooked crisps seasoned with sea salt, lemon and sage, totally delicious.
Looking at the menu our interest was immediately grabbed by two sections, the plates, pots, boards and bowls which featured a combination of light meals which could double as starters and the main courses cooked in a stone oven.
Surrounding these two sections were an interesting array of other dishes, a salad of crispy oxtail to start, mains like peppered loin of venison and simply cooked meat and fish from the grill.
Moving to our table, it had very comfortable semi-circular banquette seating and was lit with one of the interior design touches, an incredible cluster of hanging lights. While we waited for our food a plate of home-made bread appeared with an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip. The olive bread was delicious and the very dark soda bread doubly so.
Although tempted by many things our final choice of starter was the fish board – potted shrimps, cured salmon, mackerel pate, smoked eel and prawns. This selection amply displayed the very essence of British food with natural flavours and an uplifting freshness. We particularity liked the intense taste of the brown shrimps, the celeriac salad on the salmon and the sourdough toast.
Being intrigued by what the food was like from stone oven, which cooks food at an intense heat to preserve its succulence, we both selected our mains from this section of the menu.
My companion’s choice was the whole roast seabass with orange and rosemary butter. The oven had done an excellent job, retaining the moisture, and aromatic quality of the flesh, which makes this fish so popular. As with the first course the pure taste of the food was to the forefront. My choice was the home-made game pie, this was a hearty mix of strongly flavoured meats wrapped up in a rich sauce and encased in crisp shortcrust pastry. Our indulgence was a side of hand cut chunky chips rather than the more healthy vegetable that were also available.
The wine list offered a good range of wines both by the bottle and the glass. Bottle prices started in the low twenties, so it was reasonably priced. Our wine for the evening was an Australian white blend combining the sauvignon blanc and pinot gris grapes. It was lively and well rounded giving fruit and citrus notes on the nose which developed into a very full flavour on the palate.
The puddings had a quintessentially British quality with things like apple and rhubarb crumble and sticky toffee pudding. For a lighter alternative the blood oranges, pomegranate & toasted almonds with mascarpone sorbet looked refreshing and if you haven’t got a sweet tooth then there was board of British farmhouse cheeses with quince jelly and home made oatcakes. Our generous first two courses left very little room for dessert so we shared a selection well flavoured ice creams made in the kitchen.
The atmosphere, surroundings and food were all first rate and these elements further enhanced by what must be one of the friendliest and efficient front of house teams in London. Henrietta and Gary should be congratulated for achieving their objective of creating a truly ‘Best of British’ menu.
Expect to pay around £60.00 per head including drinks and service.
Reservations can be made online, by calling +44 (0) 207 724 0486 or by email email@example.com
The Arch London
50 Great Cumberland Place
London W1H 7FD
Tel. +44 207 724 4700
Image (c) Arch Hotel