The s.o. has been doing his research, lovely guy that he is. As a treat for my birthday he took me to Le Caprice, a West End institution going strong after 30 years (I know, shocking). He has earned himself a whole load of cookie points and then some.
Le Caprice is tucked away in Arlington Street in a surprisingly quiet spot behind the Ritz. If it sounds glam, it’s because it is.
In a restaurant like that, the little details in service are what really set a place apart. We walked in with a booking and the maître d’ managed very discreetly and without me realising, to confirm a special little something that the s.o. had requested. Now that, is class. From our seats at the bar (we love the counter if you recall from my Bocca Di Lupo post) I could see the maître greeting the regulars like a pro (handshake for the men, sometimes a hug for the ladies or a peck on the cheek).
Even before we had a single bite to eat, we knew this would be a good place just by looking at how the maître was working and who the other patrons were. I would say older is a good description of the crowd. Well-heeled is another one. You get the picture. The important bit however is that for a restaurant to be frequented by older (and obviously regular) customers, couples and well dressed families, then they are doing something right. It all feels very old school and it’s all the better for it.
For starters I had the summer vegetable and ricotta salad with wild fennel and the s.o. chose the fried zucchini flower with mozzarella, toasted fregola and pesto. Both salads were very well balanced. The summer vegetable one especially had really good ingredients and no overpowering sauces to take away the subtle taste of each.
The mains were absolutely great too. We had grilled calf’s liver with melted onions and crispy pancetta and rump of veal with tropea onions, roasted artichokes and green sauce. I can defintely speak about the calf’s liver as I am really really fussy with liver. It was very well executed and the flavours were very balanced. The crispy pancetta was a bit too thin for my taste – didn’t add a lot really but still, it was a nice touch.
The wine list is quite good but I do lament the lack of more Italian wines (we are fans). We did have a great Bardolino Chiaretto 2013 Raval. I am a red wine girl myself but it was a bit too warm for red. This rose was amazingly aromatic, really enjoyed it.
We really liked the interiors too. Done in sleek black, it can be a bit dark but very chic. The art deco details are very nicely done too. It’s easy to imagine yourself sitting at that bar bedecked in a sparkling dress with a bourbon in hand like in the old Hollywood films. Some tables are obviously the ‘cheap seats at the back’ though which may be an issue. I wouldn’t like to be at the last table opposite the stairs going down to the ladies, it feels a bit away from the action.
We went on a Saturday and Nick May was playing the piano – they do jazz nights, check their website for the details. As I was sipping some wine feeling very pleased with my self he played Ta pedia tou Pirea, a lovely piece by Manos Hatzidakis, sang by the legendary Melina Mercouri in Never on a Sunday. When I heard the first notes I sat up and I do think I sang along quietly. I was really touched.
Prices – wise do check the website before you go. It is pricey. For good reason, but still, do check.
Overall, we loved it. We spent a long time there nibbling, gossiping, sipping wine and listening to the great music, chatting a little bit with the bar staff and of course observing the other patrons. We had a great time and would really recommend Le Caprice for a special occasion.
Disclosure: We went to Le Caprice on 02 August 2014 and paid for our meal in full. I requested a photograph from their press team but they have not seen this post prior to publication.
Attribution: Header photo kindly sent by Le Caprice.
London SW1A 1RJ
Tel: 020 7629 2239