Tel: +44 (0)20 7344 7070
Address: Mayfair Intercontinental Hotel, 70 Stratton Street, London W1
Cuisine Type: international
Green Park (PICCADILLY, VICTORIA, JUBILEE)
Hotel restaurants can be a bit hit or miss – often overpriced and off-putting. Opus 70 is a refreshing change: in fact it doesn’t really feel like a hotel restaurant at all, though it’s firmly ensconced in the May Fair Intercontinental, conveniently placed a stone’s throw from Green Park. Windows on the street, a faintly Mediterranean feel (terracotta tiled floor, whitewashed arches and vibrantly coloured chairs) and lots of space make for a welcoming atmosphere, and the helpful staff (unlike many hotels!) actually seem to want you to enjoy yourself. For those who want to get romantic (or to discuss business) there are also secluded alcoves.
Our visit coincided with the start of a St Patrick’s Day promotion (13-23 March) which offered a suitably Irish menu including an excellent fillet of Irish beef with colcannon, oxtail and Guinness gravy. Two courses for £16.50 or three for £20 also sounded pretty good, especially as the puddings included a mouth-watering Irish apple cake with brown bread ice cream. However the standard menu couldn’t be ignored. Appetisers are imaginative and well presented, incorporating many fresh and interesting ingredients. My crispy duck, arugula and watercress salad arrived sans watercress but with a sculptural arrangement of mooli instead – delicious. Casserole of lobster and scallops with carrot and coriander was also good. Grills are a feature of the main course menu (including a choice of size – ‘London’ or ‘New York’ depending on your appetite). There are interesting vegetarian and fish options too, with a good selection of dishes marked as ‘healthy’ – low in calories, salt and fat (this is even more apparent in the lunch menu, in which more than half the main courses are healthy options – why don’t more restaurants do this?). The baked seabass with wok fried Asian greens and lobster essence sounded particularly good, and is perhaps typical of the imagination shown in the cooking, freely mixing eastern and western ingredients to good effect.
The pudding menu also has an oriental flavour, and my fruit sushi with dipping sauces (coconut, mango and kiwi) was a work of art. Organic honey mousse with sesame seed wafers also sounded intriguing, and for those with more stamina there are also temptations such as honeycomb ice cream with toffee sauce, or warm chocolate brownie.
Prices for the heart of Mayfair are very reasonable even on the main menu – starters from £4.50 to £9.00, main courses mostly range around the £15 mark and puddings are £5.50. The selection of cheeses looked a little expensive at £6.00, but included some interesting choices such as Yorkshire Blue Ewes Milk and Quicks unpasteurised Cheddar.
The wine list is typical of the helpful attitude that characterises Opus 70. There are interesting wines to be had by the glass, there is a wine of the month (currently a gorgeous Sangiovese at £21.50) and all the wines are arranged by character – for example ‘light and fruity’, ‘elegant’, ‘spicy’ and ‘full bodied’ for the reds. There are no bargains (prices start at £18) but the quality is certainly there.
One of the best things about this place is the service, which is efficient but friendly. How good to be able to sit back and relax without being rushed. There is also a pleasant piano bar attached to the restaurant – gentle strains of music filter through – and if you’re looking for a thoroughly civilised meal, you could do a lot worse than Opus 70. The Sunday lunch menu looked rather inviting, too… £27.50 for three courses, with coffee and chocolate beans – the latter are irresistible.