Restaurant review: Céleste

A Michelin-starred gem where Carole Hamilton (and her handbag) are treated like royalty

Pedigrees don’t come more illustrious than at Céleste, the restaurant at the Lanesborough Hotel that’s cousin to the three-Michelin-starred Epicure at Le Bristol in Paris. Like Epicure, the London kitchen is overseen by the masterful Eric Frechon with chef Steeven Gilles at the helm on a daily basis.

The venue
There’s no doubting that the dining room is beautiful. With natural daylight pouring in from the glass domed roof and two-level balcony seating, the setting means your expectations are high from the minute you walk through the door. The impeccable front of house team settle us into our seats and immediately pull up footstools to give our handbags pride of place next to the table. It’s something you see in grand Parisian restaurants but rarely in London, and it certainly raises a smile.

The food & drink
The menu has an obvious French feel  but British provenance is at the heart of many of the dishes, and flavour rather than over-complicated cooking is the order of the day.  I can’t resist the asparagus to start with a heavenly truffle mayonnaise and a crunchy hazelnut vinaigrette. Then I have food envy over my companion’s roasted cauliflower – both creamed and curried; earthy and Indian and quite the cleverest way of cooking this humble vegetable that I’ve ever tasted. We follow with the beef cheek for me – braised to flaky perfection with pickled mushrooms and walnuts. The lamb cutlets with sweet baby turnips in a sea salt crust are as tasty as they are pretty, the nori and mustard dressing adding a delicious hint of a kick. I always try to leave room for dessert, and the chocolate soufflé has my name on it: a fluffy, melt-in-the-mouth concoction served with vanilla ice-cream. My companion opts for the signature sugar lychee with grapefruit sorbet; a clever combination of sweet and sharp that almost shouldn’t work, but does.
Each course is accompanied by a glass of wine chosen by the sommelier, who takes us on a journey around Europe, from France and Austria to Italy and challenges our tastebuds with wines that we probably would never have ordered for ourselves. Celeste was awarded its’ first Michelin star in the 2017 list which comes as no surprise.

The verdict
Grand, but surprisingly relaxed. Steeven is doing his mentor proud. And my handbag has never been treated so well either.

The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner, London SW1X 7TA, lanesborough.com

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