Restaurant Review: Avista at Millennium Hotel, 39 Grosvenor Square, Mayfair in London
An arm of the Millennium Mayfair Hotel, Avista, is as grand as expected, not overbearing but particularly gracious. The eccentric clientele of the hotel waft through the restaurant whilst in comparison a small group of English businessmen lounge away their afternoon nearby. Aside from this a family of Japanese, proceed to set up a personal iphone photo shoot alongside their afternoon tea. An unconventional set up? True – but an Italian contemporary menu with three AA Rosettes speaks volumes.
The glamour of the surroundings certainly lives up to its W1 postcode and service is far from smutty. Seated within a generous and certainly plush booth it’s easy not to lift a finger. A predominantly north Italian focus with a nod or so to the French, an amuse-bouche adorned over an oversized clam shell and a quaint selection of homemade breads starts the chef’s seven course tasting menu.
Sat within the centre of an impressive, dark ceramic plate – handpicked Cornish crab, heritage tomato, watermelon and tomato gazpacho. Each texture and flavour considered this creative accomplishment initiated the desirable menu; this paired alongside a glass of Gavi di Gavi Tuffo. A building block of layers – a duck and foie gras terrine in which the delicacy of the presentation was almost as impressive as it tasted. This served alongside cherry, popcorn, caramel vinegar and coriander; and a glass Pinot Nero wine. It is soon made clear to us that despite a conservative exterior, Avista certainly aren’t afraid to play with their ingredients differently.
Heavier but equally as delicious the Venetian bigoli pasta with anchovies, candied onion and breadcrumbs is a heartier dish, paired with Valpolicella Classico. Again playing with textures, the Atlantic halibut wrapped in pancetta with ratatouille and crab mousse is set against bisque and served with a French Chablis. In light of what I am told of the Italian love for lamb, enter Avista’s trio of lamb fillet. The lamb is served with cola glazed sweetbread; belly, quinoa, yogurt and green tomato chutney and hands down the best quinoa dish I’ve come across to date; all washed down with a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Pre-dessert is presented in a tall glass similar to that of a martini and is more of a palate cleanser if anything. A trio of sharp, brightly coloured sorbets refresh and reset. The lemon, liquorice and coconut dessert my guest and I were a little sceptical over but this dish, complete with homemade liquorice was delicate and thankfully (for us non liquorice lovers) compared very little to that of its sweet shop equivalent.
It was quickly agreed upon that Avista had quickly exceeded expectations. Their three AA Rosettes are an easy win with their combination of impeccable table service and exquisite presentation – a Michelin star on the horizon? I wouldn’t put it past them. Influences from the finest Italian and French delicacies over decades, Avista’s menu presents its diners with a new, modern way of cooking with traditional ingredients that have been passed down the generations. At Avista it’s essentially all about enjoying ingredients in different ways.
Address: 39 Grosvenor Square, London W1K 2HP, 020 7596 3399, www.avistarestaurant.com