This seriously impressive restaurant may have flown a little under the radar for some, but its shiny new Michelin star has properly put it on the culinary map.
Having opened back in 2012, as part of D&D’s swish new South Place Hotel, Angler received some very positive reviews from pretty much anyone who mattered. However, the fanfare remained pretty sedate. It’s only recently, with the Michelin guide pinning a well-earned star to its lapel, that many have really cottoned on to quite how good Angler is (a feather in the cap of a guide under increasing – unjustified? - scrutiny). But it’s not just the food; the space itself is seriously lovely, with a very pleasant heated terrace and a gorgeous, slim dining room that looks every bit as immaculate as fine dining always has, but without any of the haughtiness. The sloping of the floor-to-ceiling windows adds intimacy, a mirrored ceiling installation (from artists Grace and Webb) character, and some very good seating plenty of comfort. It’s simply the kind of room you want to eat in, which essentially means they’ve got things pretty much spot on.
It might be right in the heart of the City but sitting pretty on the seventh floor of a boutique hotel ensures Angler feels more than a little step away from all that frantic fraught of the Square Mile. It’ll obviously attract the local suits, most of whom are lovely but some of whom can be a bit of a pain in the arse, but with its repute on the rise quite a few tables are filled with those from further afield, keen to see what all the fuss is about. Service is exceptionally good – some of the best in London, in fact – striking that balance between formality and friendliness perfectly, and with pretty darn impeccable knowledge of what’s on offer.
As switched-on sorts might have gathered, Angler is all about the sea – an homage to the seafood, shellfish and crustacea of our fair isles. And while head chef Tony Fleming’s menu puts fruits de mer to the forefront, there’s often something a little bit meaty alongside, working as a perfect complement to some seriously good seafood. And it’s in these combinations that Angler impresses most.
A sublime seared scallop to start (£13.50), for example, is served with red wine braised beef every bit as rich as it should be, but it serves only to accentuate the sweetness of the plump scallop, rather than to overpower. Butternut squash and a fragrant sage brown butter sauce round off a beautifully balanced dish impeccably.
Similarly, a main of roast fillet of turbot (£27.50) is joined by a ragout of squid rich and rounded enough to insist meat is involved in its slow-cook, with a fennel purée offering hints of aniseed and deep-fried sea purslane the perfect seasoning, as well as a touch of texture. The only time these combinations threaten to fail is in another main of salmon fillet (£19.50), but the superbly cooked, very fresh fish is just about sturdy enough to stand up to the quite surprising meaty depth of some little crispy chicken wings.
But even when the seafood is left to stand more or less on its own, it’s adroitly judged, with some very lovely results. A starter of octopus carpaccio (£12.50) is utterly brilliant, with finely sliced slivers artfully topped by squid, mango and a light and balanced soy and ginger dressing. Pan-fried halibut (£24.50) also proves popular (and looks exquisite), with pumpkin, black cabbage and an autumn truffle sauce.
Desserts are another strong point. A sweet and suitably nutty hazelnut cake (£7) is broken up and scattered along the plate, with a sprinkling of little salted caramel nuggets and a zingy lime and vanilla sorbet just restrained enough to marry everything together with a bit of sweet acidity. It's the milk chocolate cream (£6.50), though, that's the highlight, with cream so light it needs a tether surrounding a little chocolate centre (with a buckaroo of a coffee kick), and a sprinkle of Amaretti crumbs to make it look very nearly as good as it tastes. It's a very fine way to finish a pretty much faultless feed.
Poaching Benoit Allauzen from L’Atelier de Joel Rubichon in Hong Kong proved a bit of a coup for D&D, and true to form the wine list he has put together here is nothing short of superb. It’s not the longest but the quality is consistently high, even from those available by the glass (not many places offer a 2006 Bois de Boursan Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée des Félix without insisting you buy the bottle).
There’s a slight skew toward whites, as you might expect, with some of the French options particularly appealing. It’s relatively accessible too, with a crisp 2012 Sauvignon de Touraine from Paul Buisse in the Loire Valley a very reasonable £26. However, if you do splash out then you will be very well rewarded, with a 2010 ‘Vieilles Vignes’ Pouilly-Fuissé from Denis Jeandau (£80) and a 2008 Barolo Pisapolo from Giacome Ascheri (£99) both more than worth the extra.
Cocktails prove popular on that terrace, and with good reason. The house specials (£10.50) are as well-judged as the food (and pay similar homage to our green and pleasant land), with a Sussex Downs a very boozy (watch out) mix of Sipsmith damson vodka, rhubarb bitters and Nyetimber English sparking wine. The Green Fields is strong too, with Hendrick’s gin, Sipsmith Summer Cup, lime and celery over ice. Beers (by the bottle) also impress, with Meantime London lager, Camden Hells Lager, Hackney Gold and Hoxton Stout admirable local additions.
The Last Word
D&D have some very impressive restaurants in London, but this relative newcomer could well be their best. Credit where it’s due, those Michelin folk got this spot-on: a brilliant venue from start to finish.