20-21 Newman Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 1PG
Charles Pelletier and Le Chateaubriand co-founder Frédéric Peneau bring their new project, Hong Kong’s Michelin-starred Serge et le Phoque, to London. Finding a place within the surrealist hideaway of Rami Fustok’s new Fitzrovia hotel The Mandrake, the second Serge continues the stripped-back, cuisine-agnostic approach that has won their Wan Chai Market outpost so much praise. As for the curious name, Peneau’s young son Serge insisted his imaginary pet seal (phoque) also be included in the restaurant’s title. It’s certainly a mouthful to pronounce, so do as the regulars do and stick to Serge for short.
Décor and Vibe
While The Mandrake uses the hallucinogenic properties of its namesake to inspire the hotel’s décor (think a Gardens of Babylon-esque jasmine and passion flower courtyard and endless clandestine corners adorned with feathers, masks and chandeliers), Serge’s 58-cover restaurant is confidently understated, with melamine tabletops, soft lighting and The Velvet Underground heard amongst the mix of diners’ conversations and sommelier Bert Blaize’s recommendations. If you happen to run into Charles Pelletier you’ll also be in for a treat – the restaurateur appears to be as eccentric as he is convivial.
French techniques are combined with seasonally led British produce, while the restaurant’s menus change daily thanks to the team’s so-called savoir faire philosophy. How does that translate onto a plate? We found concise portions of aubergine roasted with miso, lamb with pomme puree and smoked eel and the already-infamous pigeon with arroz negro, but the menu has been designed to change a lot, so expect to find something surprising. You’re in good hands here, so we recommend going with the chef’s tasting menu to get the full effect.
Former Clove Club sommelier Bert Blaize’s wine recommendations are known for being impeccable, and from orange wines to Frazzle-tinged vintages, his organic and biodynamic list alone is worth a repeat trip.
It’s rare that we’re totally convinced by an immersive or ‘world-within-a-world’ experience, but at Serge, it’s easy to spend three hours on dinner without looking at the time. The pared-back-yet-luxe interiors, easy-going but high-end French dining and the restaurant’s larger-than-life characters mean it’s very hard not to have a good time here.
Even if you’re a bonafide dessert skipper, order at least one dacquoise for pudding. It’s so much more than a macaron, and the barely-there layers of almond meringue, nougatine and cream are worth it.