The Lanesborough and Apsleys are currently shut for renovation.
Apsleys is the London outpost of Heinz Beck, whose 3 star La Pergola in Rome is of some renown. Based at The Lanesborough, it's a beautiful space, especially welcoming for our spring lunch due to a huge skylight flooding the room with a warm light. The kitchen is headed up by Heros De Agostinis.
Starting with a glass of Franciacorta we chose from both the a la carte and set lunch menu, with a choice of 4 vegetarian dishes across both menus for my wife. Bread was served with a dish divided between flakes of salt and a good olive oil. I tried a crisp wafer, ciabatta, sourdough and olive over the meal, and all were excellent. An aubergine based amuse bouche was a good start with a respectable depth of flavour to the aubergine and tomato, with the foam and dressing adding a refreshing Mediterranean taste. I had a glass of Planeta Chardonnay and my wife a glass of Niedrist Sauvignon Blanc. First course for me was the signature dish of Fagotelli Carbonara, a superb pasta holding a liquid mixture of cured pork cheeks, pecorino, cream and butter. This was truly outstanding, an explosion of liquid, redolent with the essence of carbonara fills the mouth when bitten, an absolute joy, definitely a world class dish. For my wife, a gorgeous bowl with fried taleggio ravioli, crispy rice with a vibrant tomato puree into which pea soup was poured. The pea soup was of the highest quality with a very fresh and intense pea flavour and matched with the crispy cheese bites really well.
Main for me was a lovely piece of Casterbridge beef, and luckily for me this was served with the great peas used for the soup, both pureed and whole, some broad beans, some parmesan crisps, a jus and balsamic vinegar. I really enjoyed this, and had just enough subtle touches to ensure it kept some Italian flavours. For my wife, “Cacio e pepe” gnocchi with wild mushrooms and baby carrot foam. These were fantastic gnocchi, with some exceptional mushrooms and seasoned perfectly. The sauce was rich with butter, and highly indulgent.
We shared a plate of cheese, with a good selection of cheeses, 2 creamy Italian cheese, a brie of sorts, an excellent harder cheese, possibly pecorino and 2 fabulous blue cheeses. These came with some awesome little fennel biscuits.
I couldn't resist a glass of Chateau Climens Barsac to go with dessert, one of my favourites. Pre-dessert was a chocolate crisp and banana caramel ice cream, with a pistachio crust around a cheesecake centre. This was an enjoyable mouthful, the ice cream in particular being well flavoured. The main dessert was possibly one of the most spectacular and delicious desserts I have had in a long time, Chocolate and vanilla sphere with a raspberry heart. A sphere of dusted chocolate rested on a bed of crumbs, when broken you discover an vanilla semifreddo, and best still in the centre of semifreddo were rectangular pillows of chocolate, one for each side of the sphere, which turned out to be wafer thin shells surrounding a raspberry coulis of the highest quality. The raspberry went so well with the chocolate and semifreddo, perfectly balanced. If that wasn't enough, it was accompanied with huge micro-thin sheets of wafer, which even though barely had any substance at all held an exceptional rice and chocolate flavour. These were rested in pipings of a fabulous mousse, and with this was also a chocolate sorbet and coil of chocolate. This not only displayed the highest quality technical skills, but the elements each had their own distinct flavours. Every part of this was perfect, a fabulous and memorable dessert and a creation of the highest quality.
A large pot of some excellent coffee accompanied a selection of petit four, some chocolates, biscuits and a passion fruit jelly. These were lovely, and another tribute to the skills of Apsleys pastry section. The bill came to £230.
I really enjoyed Apsleys, an outstanding Italian restaurant with few rivals of its ilk to match it in London. We had some fantastic dishes, the Fagotelli dish and dessert were simply awesome. The room was lovely, service was good, although we had to ask for the A La Carte menu, having only being given the set lunch menu, not sure why both weren't offered as they were to the other tables, I wasn't that scruffy ;) That minor detail won't stop me going back, as there were a number of great sounding dishes on the menu.
Aubergine amuse bouche.
Pea Soup, fried Taleggio ravioli.
Casterbridge beef, peas, broad beans.
“Cacio e pepe” gnocchi with wild mushrooms and baby carrot foam
Chocolate and vanilla sphere with a raspberry heart.