October 03 2009
For most of us, dinner at Claridge's means only one thing: a month-long wait for a table at a decent time in Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant, and a pretty hefty bill at the end. But last week, I discovered what has to be London’s best-kept dining secret: the £35 set dinner menu in Claridge’s famous Foyer.
The Foyer – a name that does not do justice to the decadent art deco surroundings – is best known as the setting of glamorous power breakfasts (there can be few members of the fashion set who haven’t tucked into scrambled eggs on toast here) and, of course, Claridge's legendary afternoon tea (£33).
But who knew that they also served a light dinner? I found out by chance. On finding both the Fumoir and the bar full at cocktail hour, my friend and I had decamped to the calm of the Foyer for a glass of champagne and some civilised conversation. A couple of coupes later, we asked about the possibility of a salad or a club sandwich and couldn’t believe our eyes when presented with the three-course set menu. At just two pounds more than afternoon tea, you can choose from five starters, five main courses and four puddings – all delivered with Claridge's impeccable and unobtrusive style (and better still, no pomp, ceremony or white tablecloths).
I had poached quail's egg salad followed by partridge and roast vegetables and a memorable white chocolate tart with raspberries – all perfectly prepared and presented (the menu changes twice a week). Dinner in the Foyer did lack a little ambience – easily rectified by dimming the lights – and buzz, as apart from us there was only one other solitary diner. Well, I did say it was London’s best-kept secret. But not, I predict, for very much longer.