I don’t know where to start with reviewing Pétrus, so with odd logic I’ve decided to start at the end: it was one of the loveliest meals I’ve had, a fabulous evening with beautiful food and quiet, attentive service, and great company and I wish I could go back every week.
As part of my Christmas present my lovely fiancé promised me dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant of my choice – a brilliant present given I love eating out, but obviously probably wouldn’t book super-expensive restaurants very often at all. I chose Pétrus following a recent grudging fondness for Gordon Ramsay, an ongoing crush on Marcus Wareing and recommendations from various bloggers. So off we went!
Pétrus is in London’s posh Knightsbridge area, is owned by Ramsay, was run by Wareing under whom it gained 2 Michelin stars, and is now headed by Sean Burbage, another Ramsay protégé who by most accounts is doing a fabulous job. The restaurant is dominated by a huge wine cellar in the middle, and the setting is formal with white tablecloths, thick carpet and a hushed atmosphere.
There are set menu options available but we opted for the a la carte. We were served an amuse bouche of tiny crackers with smooth, rich mushroom pate, miniature mushrooms on toast and tiny pieces of sweetbread served on sticks in their own smoker, followed by a pre-starter course of creamy butternut squash velouté with oats and crème fraiche. These were a lovely touch and set the scene for some heroic starters and mains.
We ordered the Alaskan and Cornish crab with yuzu and lemongrass consommé – the crab was delicious, so flavoursome and complimented perfectly by the Asian tang of lemongrass and yuzu. We also had the Aberdeen Angus tartare with truffle and quail’s egg, which was served like a beautiful little garden, to the point where I felt quite bad eating it. That was short lived though, as was the dish – the meat was soft and ideal with the tiny pickles and mushrooms, and I could’ve easily polished it off again.
For mains we went for Anjou pigeon with smoked onion purée, served with a mini pigeon pie on the side; the pie made the dish, it was so strong and smoky, with perfectly cooked meat. The main dish was beautifully presented and the various incarnations of onion kept it interesting. And honestly, what isn’t made better with a little pie?! The loin of venison was also incredible, cooked perfectly pink and served with braised celery filled with bread sauce, truffle and little fried sweetbreads, with a rich, shiny jus over the meat. The venison was out of this world, it absolutely melted, and the other elements were fun, delicious and pretty much perfect.
I’m a bit of a cheese freak (who isn’t) so the idea of a CART of cheese was too good to resist. The waiter was very patient while I dithered and eventually chose ash-coated goat’s cheese, a creamy dolcelatte, hard French sheep’s cheese and soft camembert-like one to finish off. I wish I could remember what they were all called but I was excited and impatient to dig in so admittedly wasn’t paying enough attention. Suffice to say they were all amazing.
Ian went for a coconut ice cream with pineapple granita, chargrilled pineapple and little blobs of creamy coconut sauce. Imagine a pina colada if it was made solid and touched by angels and you’re there. We finished off with little ice cream balls served in dry ice, a great note to finish on.
Service was as you’d expect from a Michelin starred restaurant – discreet, unobtrusive and almost reverent. It seems as if personality is something that is discouraged among staff though; I understand that fine dining is serious business in these parts, but they could have been a bit more smiley perhaps.
I’m not sure exactly what the bill came to as I was being treated, but I’m sure it was upwards of £200. Certainly not what you want to be spending on dinner every week, or month for that matter. But for a very occasional special lunch or dinner Pétrus is a gorgeous, romantic restaurant that I will be recommending to everyone I speak to.