Eating out: Untrendily perfect

THE OAK ROOM; Le Meridien Hotel, 21 Piccadilly, London W1V OBH. Tel: 0171 437 0202. Open for lunch Mon-Fri 12-2.15pm; and for dinner Mon-Sat 7-11.15pm. Four course set lunch pounds 29.50, a la cart e pounds 160 per head including wine. Credit cards accepted

I have not had a good run lately. Over recent weeks my restaurant reviewing missions have proved - how shall I put it? - a touch disappointing. Time for drastic action, or rather, time for a sure-fire bet. This week I went straight to the top of the pile, the big time, mega-star stuff: Mr Marco Pierre White himself, in his new restaurant, the glorious Oak Room at Le Meridien Hotel.

Well, shiver my timbers, it certainly is a stunning setting. Marco is probably right when he says it is the grandest and most beautiful dining room in London. The pale oak-panelled walls rise majestically up to the lofty ceiling, with a touch of gold here and there, and vast mirrors. As you walk into the room, the sheer scale of it quite takes your breath away. Yet despite this grandeur, it isn't an intimidating room, or even an impersonal one.

In smart places like this, I'm always avid to know who the other diners are, why they are here, whether they come to places like this all the time, or if this a rare excursion. My companion on this occasion was an old friend who does something grown-up for BT, but who languished for years in the shiny world of advertising, so he was able to identify one large group of advertising execs. Actually, the 40ish guy with flowing locks and snappy suit was a dead giveaway. Right down near the entrance, a young couple in streetwise gear (relatively speaking) were more of a conundrum. Possibly, we decided, a rock star and partner with oodles of dosh, staying true to their humble roots by refusing to dress upwardly.

Actually, you don't have to be incredibly wealthy to eat here. At lunch time, there is a fabulously tempting set menu, which begins with oysters in a champagne jelly, as far as I recall, for a mere pounds 29.50. Okay, so that's not exactly greasy spoon prices, but for 30 quid a head you can play for a couple of hours at being frightfully grand, while the delightful waiters cosset you into a state of blissful serenity. You won't get much better value for money than that.

As it happens, we went for the full Monty, largely due to the boss. Part of Marco's charm is his unabashed delight in his work and success. Like a little boy with a new toy, he is chuffed to pieces to be in the Oak Room. Installed with his staff only a few weeks ago, his grin spreads from ear to ear as he looks about. The other part of Marco's charm is, of course, that he cooks like an angel. And when such an angel offers to manage your lunch for you, who could possibly refuse.

Absolved of all responsibility, we luxuriated in our temporary corner of paradise. The pounds 75 a la carte meal arrived, course after heavenly course. My friend didn't think he was particularly partial to oysters, but the cool, silky creatures of our amuse-gueule, embedded in champagne jelly on a hidden cushion of fromage frais, changed all that. Our first course proper arrived before us - one pale slice of terrine of foie gras with green peppercorns and Sauternes jelly for monsieur, and for madame, a little dark crystal ball which soon revealed its secret - a sphere of foie gras, glazed in Madeira jelly. We shared, we marvelled, we cleaned our plates.

The next act, a light one, revealed an oval tranche of wild salmon with crayfish and caviare and fromage frais on one side of the stage, and on the other a millefeuille of crab and tomatoes - the tomatoes playing the role of pastry leaves - perched in the centre of a perfect circle of red tomato vinaigrette. There is none of the fashionable drizzly sauce, spattered artily here and there across the plate. Oh no, this is precise detailed presentation. Marco Pierre White and his team are perfectionists, no doubt about that, both visually and in terms of taste. This heady cavalcade of dishes steeped in the classic luxuries is enough to turn the head of the most dedicated gourmet, let alone the rest of us more ordinary souls. If I had one small reservation - and if the food weren't so very good, I would hardly have picked up on it - it would be that the autumnal tomatoes of our millefeuille were a little bland.

Next I discovered that a bressole of bresse pigeon, is a neat little parcel of rare pigeon breast, sandwiched with foie gras (yes, more of it), wrapped in Savoy cabbage. The slick of potato mousseline, with its neat quiff, was to die for, so smooth and rich and disastrously delicious that I ate far more of it than I should, given what had gone before and what was still to come. My BT chum was, meanwhile, gleefully tucking into Marco's homage to that other great London chef, Pierre Koffman - a whole, laboriously boned pig's trotter stuffed with morels, sweetbreads and more, wickedly sticky and melting, and bathed in a dream of an "essence of morels".

By this point, I was kind of hoping that the mini breast of a creme caramel trembling before us was the last offering. It was lovely, with its jaunty little raisin perched on top, and about all that could be squeezed into my stomach. But it soon became clear that it had been a minor stop gap. Advancing towards us was the grand finale, a whole roast Rasta pineapple. Vanilla pod dreadlocks sprang out from top to toe and, weee, off came the top knot, the body was cleaved in two, and our plates were filled with neat, juicy slices. It was doused in a sweet chilli sauce that played merrily with the fresh sweetness of the caramelised fruit. On the side was a neat scoop of fromage frais (again) ice-cream, and a small dryish cake to sop up the juices. A pudding of grand design, with a hint of a tongue in its cheek.

Later, when the glow and the glamour were receding, I realised I had been utterly seduced by a meal that had very little connection with the "modern British" eclectic school of cooking. No bandwaggoning here, no East meets West, no char-grilling, no sun-dried tomatoes, no caper berries, no trendy ingredients for trend's sake. What a pleasure to eat a meal with barely a salt cellar out of place, a meal with just a swanky little jig of unorthodoxy at the end. A blessed, rare oasis in the desert of anything goes.

Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Reach for the sky: there are around 250 new buildings of 20-plus storeys planned for London alone, some 80 per cent of them residential
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
filmReview: The ingenious film will intrigue, puzzle and trouble audiences by turns
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey


Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower