An Italian affair at the Four Seasons


Hamilton Place, Park Lane
Tel: 020 7499 0888

Cost per person without wine: £55

AFTER its £125m makeover, the Four Seasons is looking just like you’d imagine. It’s dripping in chandeliers, coated in lacquer and bedecked with equine sculpture. It hardly feels homely, but it does feel rich.

It’s cool to hate such shows of money. But I confess that – done as it is here – I really rather enjoyed it all.

We began our meal with drinks in the bar. I loved it. Black and red could be tacky but done so plushly it’s just sexy. There are intriguing oil paintings of Elizabethans illuminated over the bar, and the clink of champagne glasses sets a seductive tone.

The restaurant next door is described as having “Italian flair with English style”. The room – marbly, black and red, opulent – has absolutely nothing English about it. Rather, it is pugnaciously Oriental. The food bears no signs of Anglophilia either, and is lusciously, commitedly and exorbitantly expensively Italian.

The chef, Davide Degiovanni, has been at two of London’s absolute best Italians: Locanda Locatelli and Semplice.

Most, but not absolutely all, of what we ate was the very best, with boisterously fresh ingredients, flavoured with rich, strident sauce and decorated pleasingly.

We had high hopes for the starter of seared wagyu beef, with pecorino and olive ravioli – as you would for £20. Yet it tasted ordinary and the beef was dry.

The warm mozarella, on the other hand, wrapped in crispy Parma ham, was madly delicious, thanks to the excellence of the cheese.

The pasta was terrific: wholemeal ravioli stuffed with rabbit in broth with black truffle as good as it sounds; as was a

chestnut tagliatelle with lamb ragout, which swirled in a sensual, oozing and salty sauce.

Mains are great, but if you’re short on space skip them for dessert. That said, I’d have been mortified to miss the citrussy “ashed” monkfish with Jerusalem artichokes, lardons and leeks. The seafood platter you can do without; less so, I expect, the handsome selection of meat.

You may have the best intentions in the world – I did – to go easy on dessert, but they’ll make it hard for you. Just give in: the “six little sins” platter satisfied my every urge for the chocolatey, sauce-drenched, creamy and very naughty. Who wouldn’t give into into cocoa crumble or warm coconut cake with pineapple crumble, I ask you?

My only other quibble was with the service. When will fancy restaurants learn that customers want good service that doesn’t include their constant tripping over each other to get to you first? Nobody likes to be endlessly interrupted about the temperature of the water or the enjoyment of the third bite. More surprisingly, there were mistakes with our order (quickly rectified) and other little things, such as switching my friend’s plate with mine each time they served up. Hopefully it was just teething problems, because there is plenty else – the food, mainly, but also the glamorous setting – to recommend Amaranto.