There should be a word for that smug feeling you get when the restaurant you've already booked suddenly gets rave reviews. You know the phone line will be white-hot but you're all right, Jack.
It happened to me with Kitty Fisher's, which opened just before Christmas and got some buzz on Twitter from the food cognoscenti in that funny slow time before everyone went back to work. I booked because it was J's birthday.
And then the marvellous Fay Maschler reported in the Evening Standard that she loves the place. So when we arrive on a damp Wednesday evening, just a few hours since two million Londoners have learnt they must eat there, two of the owners, Oliver Milburn and Tom Mullion, are looking a bit dazed, the phone's buzzing and they might as well install a revolving door, so often do people come in to enquire, um, are there any tables?
This tiny little venue, in the middle of Mayfair's Shepherd Market (famously a den of iniquity in the 18th century, and more recently…), has six tables upstairs and five seats at the bar – although as we perch while waiting for our table, it becomes clear that this prevents anyone getting around. It's snug.
Down a winding little staircase is a better, larger room, but even this is cosy. The kitchen is behind glass and up a couple of steps but we can practically see the sweat on the brow of chef Tomos Parry. Painted dark red, with two ancient cast-iron fireplaces inset in the walls, it feels like it's already a historic Mayfair haunt.
Kiloran, the brilliant, sole waitress, has taken control after a mix-up with tables and we're in the corner with a good view of everything and everyone. And then the plates start coming and everything else fades out. From here on in, my comments are more sounds than words. Bear with me.
Greedy and nosy, I can't resist two snacks (whipped cod's roe with bread and fennel butter, £6, and fried Mylor shrimp, £7.50) even before starters, which I rationalise by deciding not to have a main. The shrimp are teeny-tiny, Schiaparelli pink and deliciously salty *smacks lips*. Almost all are devoured whole. The roe elicits "hnnnnggg" – little fingers of toast with fondant-soft topping, scattered rather nostalgically with cress. We could have eaten 20 of them.
I'd heard the beef tartare starter (with nasturtium and rye, £10) was the equal of any in London, and possibly beyond. I don't often order it, so I'm no expert, but it's sublimely fresh, coarsely cut, and cut through with the root of the plant to add crunch. The beef is clearly from a nicely raised beast.
The wood grill is the thing here at Kitty Fisher's and it displays its charms wonderfully (in the hands of Parry and, no doubt, his sous chef Chris Leach, late of the BBQ dons Pitt Cue Co) on humble leeks, here charred and served with goat's curd, brown butter and smoked almonds (£9). They're silken and smoky, mmmmmn, a more successful ensemble even than that modern ubiquity, burrata and beetroot.
I add another starter in place of a main – Cornish crab with barbecued cucumber, dill and seaweed (£10) – which, while pretty, errs on the polite side of memorable. Across the table, of course, is where the action is. J has ordered beef sirloin with onion, pickled walnut, pink fir and tunworth (£30).
This has become, already, a hot contender for dish of the year. Everyone who goes here orders it, they all rave about it on social media and god help Tomos if he ever thinks of taking it off the menu. Ruby red chunks of beef, with a rugged crust and little gobbets of smoky fat, the only real response to eating it is "wooffff". The melty potato/cheese part of the plate makes me feel I can only get away with eating it if I ski home (it's got that piste-fuel feel about it). Charred onions are like so many fallen petals, with puddles of rich jus inside. (Excuse me while I wipe the drool.) And salty, salty, salty. I adore this feature of every dish – even the chocolate mousse with burned orange and hazelnuts has visible crystals on top. *Sound of tongue tingling (if there is such a thing)*.
No space to rave about the imaginative wine list. I guess I'll have to go back (sigh). If only I could get a table *gnashes teeth*.
Kitty Fisher's, 10 Shepherd Market, London W1, Tel: 020 3302 1661. £120 for two, with wine
Four more foodie notes from the past week
Not only an exemplary hotel, but stellar chef Hélène Darozze's party for the Galette des Rois celebration was a (delicious) hoot.
No time to revisit my favourite, Barrafina, for a frittata, but a home-made one packed with veggies was a weekend brunch success.
Le Pain Quotidien
Walnut flute, lashings of jam and a vast bowl of coffee at a breakfast meeting: this chain of cafés is consistently reliable.
Stunning salads, humble meatloaf elevated to new heights, bespoke sundaes – how soon can I go back to this instant-classic restaurant?Reuse content