If these walls could talk… Under the high-design auspices of the mighty Anouska Hempel, Blakes has been the sexiest and most discreet celebrity hideaway in London since the late 70s. The restaurant in the basement has the ambience of a very private, terribly intimate members' club and continues to have a tractor beam-type pull for the A-list of fashion and film and west London society.
It’s a tiny space, offset by the even smaller, deeply plush Chinese Room – frequently taken over for private dinners by living legends. The look is classic Hempel-goes-Asian: lots of black and oriental orange, with pretty Chinese frescoes and objets d’art. It’s impossibly romantic and very, very sexy.
The food riffs on the east-meets-west London luxe vibe: Black cod with miso and ginger sauce outsells everything else on the menu in the evening. ELLEuk's favourite dish, though, is the seared ahi tuna with miso and mustard dressing and green tea noodles. It’s presented like fine jewellery, sliced finely and arranged as a perfect and pretty graphic, and the taste is light, fine but quite incredible. Divine. There have been changes to the kitchen since new owners took over in 2010, and there’s now a starter of burrata with tomato on the menu. Burrata is the cracked, creamy, more decadent cousin to straightforward mozzarella (it has cream added and must be eaten within a day). The just-flown-in-from-Italy stuff at Blakes is tip-top. Elsewhere on the menu there’s a red curry, crispy ginger chicken breast, rack of lamb and beef fillet teriyaki. The wine list is epic and expensive, and there’s a caviar selection between salads and mains on the dinner menu. It’s that kind of a restaurant…
Desserts continue the fusion theme, and a gold sake jelly with passion fruit is some kind of wonderful. Like the tuna, it’s impossibly pretty and has a refined but also well defined, and quite spectacular taste. The restaurant at Blakes has as much substance as style. There are so few dining rooms in town with this much white-hot glam history and ongoing sense of presence. It’s a legend in its own breakfast, lunch and dinner time.
The ELLEuk Score
Address: Blakes Hotel, 33 Roland Gardens, London SW7 9PF
Style of food: Japanese, Italian and French fusion
Good for: Pre-theatre; special occasion; first date; romantic; group dinner; work lunch/dinner
Prices and Other Details at Blakes
Average price per person for two-course meal without wine: £35
Set menu: £19 (two-course lunch); £23.50 (three-course lunch); £19 (bento box lunch)
Price of bottle house wine: £35, Sauvignon Blanc, Domain Fouassier, Loire (white); £40, Nero d’Avola, Terra Solaria, Sicily (red)
Price of glass house wine: £6.50 (white); £8.50 (red), as above
Price glass house champagne: £11, Canard-Duchene Cuvee Leonie
Price bottle house champagne: £60 (as above)
Private dining? Yes. For 36
Outdoor dining? Yes. Outside in the courtyard
Bar? Yes. And a lounge for non-diners
Who goes? A glamorous A-list set – Mickey Rourke, Madonna and Tom Ford
Nearest tube: South Kensington