On my way to dinner, I managed to window shop at Victoria Beckham’s flagship store, narrowly avoid being clipped by a Bentley whilst crossing the road, and almost stumbled into a private members’ club. All part and parcel of walking through Mayfair, perhaps? How the other half live. If the tables were turned, I could actually be stocking up on VB gears, have my driver ferry me around in the Bentley, and be darting from one club to another. But no, this Kiwi lass is unlikely to be joining the Mayfair set… the closest I’ll get is to frequent the restaurants in their hood.
On this occasion, it was QP LDN. This swish Italian comes to Mayfair via the Amalfi coast where its sister restaurant, Michelin starred Quattro Passi resides. QP LDN aims to bring a taste of this authentic Amalfi coast inspired cooking, something I was very much looking forward to after the eventful journey to the restaurant. I was also more than happy to accept a gigantic Aperol spritz whilst waiting for my dinner date Vicky.
As soon as she arrived, another Aperol was swiftly delivered, we toasted to the new year and got stuck into a bit of gossip – the sleek furnishings and dim lighting make this place very conducive to sitting back and relaxing, so much so, we almost forgot about the food. A delivery of canapes and a selection of bread, brought our minds back to the task at hand.
We gobbled up the arancini, pizza-like bites, and mini cheese puffs while studying the menu and deliberating whether to start with some antipasti or the homemade pastas, and if we went with pasta, would be have room for the mains…? To save ourselves further struggle, we asked our ever-so-attentive waiter for advice. We picked out a few things we had our eyes on and he suggested they do smaller portions of some dishes so we didn’t have to choose, a solution which got a thumbs up from both of us.
The tartare came first; on one side of the plate was the smoked salmon with apple, nuts and cucumber salad on yoghurt sauce and on the other was the tuna with avocado and fennel. You’ll rarely hear me complain about a tartare as long as the fish is fresh and this was, but for these prices, you would expect nothing less. I liked the fail-proof combination of tuna and avocado, but the salmon was undoubtedly my favourite. Sometimes salmon tartare can be a bit pedestrian but pairing it with vibrant apple and cucumber and including some crunch from the nuts made it anything but. To complete our round of raw, we also ordered the beef carpaccio with rocket, parmesan and artichokes; we loved the super thin slices of well seasoned beef but not the accompanying artichokes. These were too bitter and overpowering, and did the beef no favours.
We had decided on sharing the spaghetti with fresh crab and cherry tomatoes but our waiter told us the QP LDN signature linguine with fried zucchini and parmesan sauce was a must. The chefs could again make us smaller portions of both, so who were we to argue? I liked the idea of the zucchini dish but in reality, it was all too salty and I was not a huge fan. We much preferred the sweet, delicate flavours of the crab and cherry tomatoes which felt altogether less cloying. The pasta itself was fantastic; cooked al dente, as to be expected, with plenty of bite.
The rack of lamb with parsnip cream, beetroot crumble, runner beans and hazelnut we had for our main was perfect for sharing; two succulent slices of lamb each with a bit of everything else. It was beautifully pink, and I loved the textures from the accompaniments, but it felt like there was something missing. I honestly, can’t put my finger on what so it’s just a personal preference but the lamb was not that memorable. A good quality cut, cooked splendidly, but just lacking the wow factor. We almost wished we had opted for one of the fish mains, the ones sailing past to a neighbouring table looked and smelled so good, we were getting pangs of jealousy.
There was very little indecision when it came to dessert. I am very partial to a chocolate mousse but the addition of caramel and the pairing with passionfruit sorbet made this a must-order dish for me. The mousse itself was not quite as I imagined, it was much thicker and layered more like a delice, but utterly heavenly none the less. Its decadence was admirably counteracted by the refreshing sorbet. Our second dessert was the warm orange tart with bitter chocolate ice cream which caught Vicky’s attention. The short buttery pastry did well to encase the oozy orange curd filling, and when combined with the chocolate ice cream, this reminded me a bit of a jaffa cake. A posh one at that, which makes it an excellent choice in my book.
If you had the meal we did, you would have left fairly content and satisfied too, but your wallet would have been a tad lighter… I don’t imagine it’s much of an issue for the Mayfair set but for the rest of us, the bill is steeper than what you might expect. I look around this neighbourhood and I totally get it; this is another impossibly chic dining room and the service makes you feel like an heiress, and in turn, the food is pricey. But is this taste of the Amalfi coast worth it?! My pockets aren’t deep enough for a second opinion but you’re welcome to try for yourself.
Do you regularly dine in Mayfair? What’s your favourite restaurant in the neighbourhood?
Thanks to Vicky for inviting me as her date to QP LDN, but as always, all opinions are mine and mine alone!