The Capital Hotel in Basil Street, London’s Knightsbridge, just a stone’s throw from Harrods and Harvey Nichols, is a special hotel. I was first introduced to it several years back and slightly more recently when friends and I would meet up for significant birthday celebrations. The ambiance, food and service were always good and our lunches special.
But, time moved on; we all moved away from London; new restaurants opened; but about a year ago I was invited to an evening reception at The Capital – memories flooded back.
A culinary hero
Recently I discovered that one of my culinary heroes – Chef Adam Simmonds – had been appointed Executive Chef of the hotel’s restaurant. It was definitely time for a friend and me to visit for lunch.
And so it was that a few weeks ago on a bright sunny autumn day as I turned the corner into Basil Street, in front of me, looking as discreet, gracious and elegant as ever stood The Capital Hotel.
One of London’s first boutique hotels
Once upon a time, when Victoria was queen it was a gracious town house or houses, but since 1971 it changed ‘careers’ becoming one of London’s first boutique hotels.
Today it is a 5* grand hotel, albeit a petite one, noted for its cosy, elegant, comfortable, public rooms and 49 bedrooms and suites.
From the moment I walked up the steps, greeted by the charming doorman, and walked into the hall the welcome was like being given a hug from a long lost friend.
The staff at the Capital are truly special – friendly, kind, efficient, and welcoming.
We were shown into the small dining room and seated at a familiar window table – I had sat at that table before.
Durdica (Georgia) our lovely server made sure we were comfortable before bringing us water, wine and utterly delicious, dainty amuse bouche (tasty arancini and an oh-my-goodness-I-want-the-recipe pieces of chicken cooked in buttermilk and encased in a crisp crumb coating) served on a nest of pine needles.
Needless to say the brown and white sourdough breads were homemade, as was the butter. Chef hadn’t been able to find the exact butter flavour he wanted, so they make their own; such attention to detail, it has to be perfect.
Scallop and mushroom risotto and White Asparagus
As a starter one of us chose, and thoroughly enjoyed a roasted scallop and mushroom risotto, whilst the other opted for delicious white asparagus and curd – light and fresh tasting.
Executive Chef Adam Simmonds likes to continue the Capital Hotel tradition of showcasing British inspired dishes and ingredients but gives them an unexpected and contemporary twist. Needless to say menus vary slightly depending on what is available at the time.
Mutton with leek ribbons and salt aged duck
From the menu that day Clare opted for the mutton served with leek ribbons. Like me she had previously been put off mutton fearing that the meat could be tough and strong flavoured. She cleared her plate but not before allowing me to try a little. She was right, the meat, served as a ‘medallion’ and also as a pulled-mutton parcel, had a nice, but not chewy, dense texture compared to lamb, with a pronounced, but not strong taste.
A few nights previously I had roasted a duck –– it was ok, but the meat had little flavour and I had been disappointed, however, I had a feeling that the salt aged duck mentioned on the menu might be worth trying. Served with grapefruit and turnip – the duck was not only good it was sensational –very nobly I passed a little over for Clare to try too.
A sublime dessert
We guarded our desserts – no sharing this time. Every mouthful was too precious to share. My dessert of elderflower ice cream with meringue shards, honey, oats yoghurt and a honeycomb tuille was sublime.
Fine dining indeed
Bold, imaginative food flavours and textures tease and tantalise the palate, contrasting and enhancing each other leaving the diner in no doubt that Adam Simmonds and his chefs are setting their own style.
Dining at The Capital Hotel is a very special treat; this is seriously fine dining including friendly impeccable service in comfortable, elegant relaxed surroundings.
If you eat from the à la carte menu: starters are from £15, main courses from £19, desserts from £8; impeccable wines from £24; £7 per glass. However, for a special-feeling lunch the hotel also offers a set price two or three course lunch menu for £33/39.
I had definitely been away too long, it was great to be back at the Capital; I won’t leave it so long for the next visit, there is a birthday on the horizon.
The Capital Hotel: warwickhotels.com/the-capital