The Halcyon Hotel in fashionable Holland Park has been a reasonably well kept secret amongst London diners and celebrities from across the Atlantic for some time now. All 42 rooms are different and discretion and luxury go hand in hand for the guests, many of whom are from the world of showbusiness.
Chef Martin Hadden has been in charge of the restaurant which is known as "The Room at the Halcyon" for six years now, and he continues to improve the standards with his innovative French and international cooking and is hoping to add to his various accolades such as the 3 AA Rosettes to enhance his growing reputation. The room also has a reputation of being consistently good, and some of the celebrities that are regular visitors include some of the biggest names in Hollywood such as Robert de Niro, along with local residents such as John Cleese, Lord Lichfield and Richard Branson. The discreet 55-seater restaurant exhibits art from some of its regular patrons on the wall with all of them for sale. Ronnie Wood has just finished a display there, and the current celebrity artiste is Barbara Ronay.
I had been there previously for dinner when actor Dennis Waterman was on the next table, but a quiet extended lunch that was just as memorable had mainly well heeled businessmen and movie types enjoying the outside conservatory dining in yet another sweltering day in London. A very creamy and rich tasting langoustine soup kicked off the meal, which was quickly followed by Grilled Scallops in filo pastry and a lobster sauce. The contrast in textures gave the dish an added edge, although scallops rarely need too much to make them the most versatile of starters. Sliced duck in rich oriental sauce topped with very light oriental noodles (pachoy) was an inspired choice. The duck, which came in small delicate chunks, was the perfect shade of pink and was well complemented by a rich and savoury Red Morgon Beaujolais 1993 wine advised by sommelier Damien Charenton from Poitiers in France. He has only been there for eleven months but is enjoying the challenge and will probably go on to even bigger things in the future. Other main courses on the lunch menu are Grilled Beef Fillet with mushroom and confit tomato and Saffron and Fish Risotto. There is of course a more comprehensive selection at dinner with Sea Bass, Brill, Escalope of Salmon, Calves Sweetbreads, Saddle of Lamb and Fillet of Beef.
Bitter chocolate tart with coffee ice cream for dessert was served in an extremely generous portion and delicious at that, and again the wine selected was another find. Apricot peach Domaine La Soumade 95 from the Rhone Valley is the one to go for with a dessert that rich. Service is very professional with the staff obviously used to dealing with lots of high profile clients, but you do not have to be famous to get a reservation. Be warned though, because a single visit could easily turn into a regular habit, and it could easily spoil you when you compare it to some of the other dining rooms in the capital.
The Halcyon is a member of Grand Heritage Hotels
Lunch for two with wine-£65-closed Saturday
Dinner for two with wine-£110
Open for breakfast 7am to 10.30am
Nearest tube-Holland Park
Off road meter parking
Michael Hepworth Seprember 99
Email: Halcyon Hotel