Angler, South Place Hotel, 2 South Place, London, UK
The Restaurant: Angler is primarily a fish restaurant and specialises in sustainably sourced British seafood. It is Michelin starred and is under the direction of executive chef Gary Foulkes.
The situation: Business lunch for two
The environment: When you walk into Angler it is like walking into a crisp summer morning. It is a place of beauty in itself. My guest and I arrived in the middle of a November downpour under grey clouds and threatening skies. With so much window-wall, we expected the ambiance to be muted. But no. Every shade of white, mirrors and light makes this restaurant just a lovely place to sit. Tables are well distanced so you feel you have room to relax and talk.
The service: Reception and waiters were, like the tables, crisp and welcoming. Despite this being a Michelin Star restaurant, there was no sneery snobbishness so often adopted by so-called ‘better restaurants’. Requests were met with a smile even (when I requested well-done scallops which was going to make the chef wince), dishes were well explained, service was fast and our satisfaction checked. Staff managed all of this without ever stepping into the realm of obsequious and to my relief, they let you put your own napkin on your lap and did not pounce when you filled your own water glass.
The food: We kept to fish, though there was small offering of meat on the menu. Wine list was extensive but we were on a dry lunch.
For the starterswe chose Orkney Scallops and Dorset hand-picked crab. Warm bread and flavoured butter set us off to a good start and the staff were not men in supplying a second basket. The four scallops were perfect – plump, juicy, cooked just as I like them and set off by a squash puree and crepes. Flavours combined salty and sweet in just the right balance. My guest’s crab was not so well received. Little parcels of white crab-meat were light and subtle and the sauce pleasant. However, more crab meat was needed in the sauce and the portion was bordering on nouveau-cuisine.
Mains were Cornish cod and sea-bass. The cod was cooked to perfection and went well with a reasonable portion of parmentier potato and chervil root. The dish looked beautiful and tastes blended very well, plus the portion was reasonable. Again my poor guest was less well fed with a small portion. The sea-bass was well cooked and the dish saved by the nest of plump peach-coloured coastal mussels. The sauce was a little too subtle. Side dishes of spinach and mashed potato were plain and had nothing to differentiate them from any other good restaurant.
Desserts: We chose cheese (special of the day) and warm baked chocolate. The cheese was simply gorgeous. The savoury taste was then offset with little pieces of pear and a sweet confit. A perfect blend. The warm baked chocolate was devoured and rated as ‘pretty good but two mouthfuls’.
The price: The Angler is pretty pricy at £165 for two with no wine or aperitifs. Better portion sizes for my guest would have led me to say it was value for money. This is definitely a place to take a business guest to impress and have a business discussion in a very conducive atmosphere. Indeed, it is promoted as a place for savvy business diners. Make sure you select from the main menu and not the fixed price lunch unless you have a small appetite. Not so sure it is a lunch with your girl-friends venue.
Overall rating: We are giving a 6/10. The décor and service cannot make up for stingy portions at this price.