For my birthday dinner this year, I had reservations at The Greenhouse, Alyn Williams at the Westbury, and Ormer. My mind kept changing by the hour, but after reading Rosie’s review, I knew I had to try Shaun Rankin’s new venture.
Part of Flemings Hotel’s recent multi-million facelift, Shaun’s new London outpost shares the same vision of his Michelin-starred St Helier baby. Ormer aims to bring a fresh taste of Jersey to the heart of Mayfair.
We started at Manetta’s Bar, a beautiful space with its dark leather chairs and panelling. I am immediately drawn to the chic comfort it exudes. It’s definitely my type of bar for chilling out.
Their couture cocktails are rather delicious. GM Marco was quite pleasant to talk to and upon knowing it was my birthday, offered me a rather funny Italian rendition of the song. The martini game here is quite strong – perhaps not as refined as The Connaught, but definitely worth getting inebriated for.
Ormer – The Restaurant
The restaurant’s art deco inspired interior is rather beautiful. There’s a bit of 1920s artistry here that makes you feel all Gatsby-glammed.
As it was my birthday, we started the show with bubbles. English Nyetimber is widely promoted in Ormer, but they do have a good selection of International wine and bubbles. We ended up having French options.
The amuse bouche was a bite-sized lobster roll which had more lobster than brioche. If they served real-life portions of this for lunch, I’d brave London traffic to have it.
Bread is homemade and so is the butter, infused with all sorts of herbs you can think of. Admittedly, I couldn’t taste much of the herby stuff but I liked the texture of the butter as it was dense and creamy. And that bread? Fantastic.
My birthday traditions involve having crab or steak or both, so it was rather fitting that I ordered the Jersey crab (£17) to start. A generous portion of crabmeat takes centerstage, garnished with Asian pear and a lime and vanilla dressing. What made it more interesting was a spot of peanut brittle crumbs, which made it sweeter than your average starter.
And then there was the famous Jersey lobster ravioli (£18) with crab and tomato bisque. This totally reminded me of my friend E’s lobster ravioli from some summers past. Whilst E’s version was packed generously and made for home entertaining purposes, Ormer’s offering is rather refined. I would have liked a little bit more of the piquant bisque, as it definitely gave some vibrance to the ravioli itself.
I had to get the signature pine nut crusted turbot (£32) with cauliflower, cockles and sea veggies. This was, after all, what most punters have been raving about. It’s also what made me choose Ormer for my birthday dindin.
I wasn’t disappointed at all. They cooked the turbot beautifully the freshness of the fish just erupted in my mouth. Cauliflower came pickled, roasted and puréed and I am astounded by the thought of this plain jane of a veg becoming a favourite. The cockles, tiny as they were, gave a nice hint of salt that made me wish I were dining seaside. That would’ve made the perfect birthday setting, but I can’t complain for this was a celebration of good cooking.
The Dover Sole (£35) main was slightly confusing as it came as a tiny sliver of a fillet and a hefty portion of smoked salmon. Dover sole £35 smoked salmon, potato and leek risotto, quail egg, pickled caperberry salad
Don’t get me wrong, I really liked the sole paired with the potato and leek risotto. However, it felt like two different mains. I wish there were more of the beautifully cooked sole instead of the smoked salmon – even if the latter tasted just as fresh.
I couldn’t have foregone dessert, because birthday girls deserve birthday cakes. Yes, plural.
First of the night was a decadent dark chocolate brownie (£12) topped with toffee popcorn, and served with salted caramel and milk ice cream. They did say great things come in small packages and let me tell you, this tiny piece of joy was an awesome gift on a plate. The chocolate was rich without being overly sweet and though the popcorn was chewy, it gave a nice depth to the bitterness of the cake itself.
And then the requisite “decorated dessert plate” came: a slice of carrot cake (£9) lay atop vanilla cheese frosting, served with walnut ice cream and rum and raisin puree. I wanted to lick the “Happy Birthday Honey” message on the side, but the cake was so good I remembered my manners. Light and lush, this reminded me of how much I loved tripping on carrots in all its beta carotene glory.
My Lung Ching Dragonwell tea (£5) came in the cutest teapots and cups and as I sip to another year older, the staff came to sing me a wonderful birthday song.
Shucks, Ormer. You almost made me weepy.
Overall, I applaud Shaun Rankin for taking residency at the Flemings Hotel. The restaurant is beautiful and the service is absolutely warm. The atmosphere was a bit quiet on a Tuesday night, but it became busier later. Food is beautifully prepared and I can guarantee the freshness of the produce here. It’s not just a place for celebrations – go to impress and for inventive seafood.
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Have you been to Ormer?