London is a melting pot of trendy new restaurants, where every possible food trend is satiated; from dirty burgers to ceviche, breakfast cereals to posh kebabs. We are now experts at eating off slabs of wood, drinking out of jam jars and sitting on reclaimed toadstools – nothing phases the intrepid foodie.
But for me dinner is something best enjoyed without a side order of faddishness. I Iive in East London – the mothership of all experiential dining silliness - so I crave the cool environs of a classic restaurant. This is why I have been to 34 Mayfair three times in the past two weeks. It is the antithesis of trendy and I love it.
A man in a bowler hat opens a door for you, someone takes your coat, someone else escorts you to your table – what sweet joy it is not to be told to join the back of a queue by a clip board-wielding hipster in a lumberjack shirt.
This is pure old-school Mayfair glamour. It's the kind of place deals are made, engagements are celebrated and wives take their husbands to tell them they're leaving them for a younger man.
Burnt orange leather banquettes, crisp white table cloths, wood paneling, heavy silverware and old-fashioned table lamps are off-set by the modern art hanging on the walls. Upstairs is the Tracey Emin room which is reserved for private functions and features framed prints of her delicate line drawings plus the highly Instagramable slogan neon light works.
Harvey Ayliffe is the head chef – he uses a custom-made Parrilla grill to cook fish, steak and seasonal game to perfection. I can also vouch for the vegetarian food, which is richly varied and beautifully presented. I started with steamed asparagus because it's in season, served cold with a vinaigrette. I've also tried the spring vegetable tortellini as an appetizer, which is delicious but a more luxurious option due to the creamy gorgonzola.
The dover sole was worth every penny – it's so light and for a life-long vegetarian like me who is new to fish this is exactly how you want it served – no bones, not too fishy tasting, reassuringly expensive.
We had to drink champagne as it is served in a coupe modeled on Kate Moss' breast and who wouldn't want to experience this in their hand? It paired particularly nicely with dessert, a peanut butter crunch bar served with black currant sorbet.
34 is the kind of restaurant in which you feel so well looked after, and so ensconced in a comforting sense of authority that it's easy to find yourself very, very drunk. The good thing is, for all it's grown-up, glamorous formality it's also somewhere you can really let loose, as long as you don't wake the Mayfair neighbours as you stumble out.
The Champagne Lovers Lunch, which includes limitless champers, will be available at 34 Mayfair throughout July and August