Restaurants; Where shall we meet ... in Berkeley Square?

Just when you think it can't get any worse, it suddenly gets miraculously better. Honestly, I nearly gave up going out for good after my experiences in Kingston-upon-Thames last week; the prospect of one more meal away from the old homestead was very nearly more than I could bear. I swear, it was going to be a life of beans on toast in front of the TV for me. So thanks, Garry Hollihead; you've saved my life.

Garry, whose impressive track record has included Michelin-starring roles at Sutherlands and L'Escargot and then at the Marco Pierre White empire, has recently fetched up at Morton's, The Restaurant.

I have to say that I had a teeny qualm or two about trying out Morton's, partly because "The" in a name always reminds me of less propitious "The's", such as "Batman, The Movie", and partly because it's based in a gentleman's club, and my experience of these has been very much of the Dover Sole Dauphinoise variety.

Not here. The restaurant has taken over the whole of the first-floor dining room of this beautiful Regency building in Berkeley Square, with wonderful French-window views of the passing traffic and beautifully understated decor - huge mirrors, strange Japanesey dead trees and a charming hommage a Magritte.

True, it's not the sort of place where you would be inclined to dance on the tables, but in terms of formal dining, it's comfy enough to find yourself sitting next to Bryan Ferry without noticing.

And Garry's food is - well, it brings tears to your eyes; as will the bill, at pounds 50-odd a head. Even though my poor old body is getting a bit too feeble for haute cuisine, I glutted.

An amuse-gueule of sublime gazpacho contained an extra gift of a single slice of seared tuna at the bottom. The crayfish salad and my eating-conspirator's foie gras with scallops left us both feeling drunk. After rabbit with langoustines, decorated with teensy chanterelles and asparagus, I was delirious. I thought I'd collapse if pudding came anywhere near, but amazingly - and this is the test of a really good meal - my chococlate pave was so intense it actually woke me up. Friend had a lemon chiffon tart whose pastry was little short of angelic and which was accompanied by a passionfruit sorbet so powerful it actually made her squeak.

Thanks, Garry. My faith is restored.

Morton's, The Restaurant, 28 Berkeley Square, London W1 (0171-493 7171)


La Tante Claire

Berkeley Hotel, Wilton Place, London SW1 (0171-493 5699)

Pierre Kofmann's Michelin-starred diner moves to larger premises, with little change anticipated.


93-107 Shaftesbury Ave, London W1 (0171-494 3040)

Superb modern French food, with inventive flourishes.

La Porte des Indes

32 Bryanston St, W1 (0171-224 0055)

Up market Indian serves up French-influenced subcontinental food in sumptuous surroundings.


2 Kensington Park Rd, W11 (0171-229 4481)

European British food for the denizens of Notting Hill; great for vegetarians.

Halkin Hotel

Stefano Cavallini Restaurant, 5 Halkin St, London SW1 (0171-333 1234)

Exquisite, if over-cool Italian. Heaven for business; not great for romance.

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