Jason Atherton has been one of London’s most celebrate chefs since working as the Executive Chef at Gordon Ramsay’s Michelin starred Maze in 2007. After leaving Ramsay Holdings in 2010, Atherton went on to gain his very own star at his flagship restaurant, the critically acclaimed Pollen Street Social. The restaurant went straight into the 50 Best Restaurants at number six as well as wining an array of awards.
Since then, he has gone from strength to strength with the openings of Little Social and Social Eating House to add to his London portfolio, and a total of 10 restaurants worldwide now under his belt.
The launch of the Berners Tavern in The London EDITION Hotel is arguably his most ambitious project yet with 140 covers, and the focus being not only on the fantastic food Atherton has become known for, but the exceptional style and design that embodies the EDITION brand. Phil Carmichael, who’s cooked with Atherton for over ten years, is heading up the kitchen so it’s safe to say what can be expected is the same level of quality and service as you’d find at his other establishments.
Here at It’s Rude To Stare HQ we couldn’t wait to get down and try it for ourselves, so headed to the soft launch for a sneak peak before Berners Tavern officially opened its doors to the public last week.
The restaurant is accessible via a separate entrance which makes you forget that you’re in a hotel (which I quite like), but make no mistake, the opulence that EDITION is famous for is undeniable as you walk in. I was greeted by a lovely hostess who took my coat, umbrella, and led me to my table under high ceilings adorned with intricate mouldings, a vast chandelier hanging in the center of the room, and past walls laden with works of art, all presented in gold frames of various sizes.
On one side of the room is a beautiful bar, lit up in the same warm yellow light that envelopes the rest of the restaurant, and reaching all the way to the ceiling. I would happily spend an evening perched there drinking cocktails and chatting to the knowledgeable bartenders, but tonight was about the food.
After spending about half an hour discussing the menu amongst ourselves, we thought we had decided what we wanted and went to order… until our lovely waiter, Karl, came to our table and we all changed our minds again. And again…. He handled the situation with total patience, professionalism and flattery as this group of six girls over-complicated everything. (Thanks Karl!).
In the end, we settled mostly for seafood. To start, we shared the “British fruits of the sea” selection which was served on ice, towering in the middle of our table and piled with crab claws, oysters, prawns, langoustine and clams. I could not think of a more perfect way to begin a meal.
Next up most of us opted for either the Orkney scallop ceviche or the Braised Wye Valley leeks with Cornish crab salad. Both came beautifully presented the flavor combinations complimented each other perfectly.
For mains, again, we mostly stuck with fish with the girls either opting for a fillet of roasted Cornish seabass with brown shrimp on a bed of seaweed and kale, or sharing a whole baby line bass with fennel and lemon stuffing. All the dishes were stunning and cooked to perfection.
For those who are not such seafood fans, fear not! The menu is packed with delicious meaty offerings such as crispy Romeny Marsh lamb, Creedy carver duck or Cumbrian English rose veal.
We shared a few desserts between us to end our evening. I ordered the warm almond brioche, pear compote with ginger sorbet which came served in a glass jar and was honestly one of the tastiest desserts I’ve ever had (and that’s saying something because I have such a sweet tooth!!). Warm and comforting, and perfectly balanced, it was exactly what was needed on that rainy evening, with a great Old Fashioned on the side. The other dessert I tried was a goat’s cheese sorbet with blackberry compote and meringue. It was deliciously light and not too sweet. The great end to a fantastic meal.
We had a truly wonderful meal with excellent service and cosy, buzzing atmosphere, something that I imagine is relatively difficult to create in a space that vast. Our food was superb which is also a feat considering that this was the first night the kitchen was fully operating. I can’t wait to pay a return visit in a few months when the team have fully settled in, although it’s hard to imagine how they could possibly improve!