Restaurants at the Mandarin Oriental are always likely to be an unbelievable experience, and The Aubrey, at London’s hotel, is no exception. Described as a ‘home away from home’ for local London and global guests, this eccentric Japanese izakaya restaurant features delicious food, world-class innovative cocktails, and live DJ music from Thursdays through to the weekend. A luxurious and immersive experience, this restaurant is well worth a glamorous night out in.
Sitting on the lower ground floor of the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge, where the former Bar Boulud used to occupy, this deeply atmospheric, mood-lit restaurant is the perfect spot for a decadent evening. A long term customer of this esteemed bar, I returned with a girlfriend one Friday evening for a dinner for two, to explore the new dining concept. Much like its previous home, the space is elegant and sophisticated, with dim lighting and an ambience fit for the most romantic of dates. Dark woods, leathers, glass and gold line the bar, with paintings and ornaments adorning the space. It screams high end.
As a Japanese restaurant, the menu is primarily classical delicious cuisine, with some welcome surprises to the mix. Extensive though not overwhelming, oysters and caviar make an appearance, as do many sumptuous steak options. We began with champagne Aubrey – the house champagne made by the restaurant itself. Light, bubbly, and fresh on the palate, with deep toasty notes to finish, this champagne surprised us both with its complexity. A lovely champagne and one well worth ordering. Our lovely host recommended we start with the Edamame with chili salt to nibble on as more starters made their way to us. We had the Wagyu Gyoza, Gomae (baby spinach with sesame), and some Seasonable Root Vegetable Tempura to start. The Gyoza’s were so delicious, the Wagyu done perfectly, and wonderfully juicy with the Gyoza dipping sauce, that we went back to order a second round later in the meal. The Edamame was flavoursome and pleasantly salty, whilst the Gomae was fresh and smooth in its spinachy goodness, decadently oozing with the very moreish peanut and sesame sauce. The Root Vegetable Tempura was fluffy and light, not greasy at all, and made with a well of roasted butternut squash.
For the second starter, or rather, the sushi course, we opted for a mix of our favourites, sharing a platter of the Seabass dish topped with roe and yellow flower, Hamachi yellowtail tuna, Sake salmon, and Hotate scallop. All of these were spectacular. The fish was fresh and firm, delicate in notes yet distinct in its quality, whilst the rice was subtly flavoursome in its own way. Clearly made to the highest standard with the finest of ingredients, this sushi would certainly spoil any sushi eaters palate with its quality. For Maki, we had the Salmon Softshell Crab with yuzu mayo, tobiko, which was an absolute haven to the mouth (as Softshell Crab often is), the yuzu mayo giving a lovely zesty creaminess to it. It came with brown rice, which gave a welcome crunch, as well as a few delicate chives on top to give it a fresh zestiness to cut through the richness. We also had the Wagyu with black garlic and chives, another brilliant rendition of the Wagyu that we had earlier. The garlic gave an earthiness to the rich Wagyu that worked surprisingly well when dipped into soy. Just wonderful. We were planning on moving to white wine for this course, but decided to stick with the Aubrey champagne, it was that delicious!
Slightly infatuated with the Wagyu, we ordered the Wagyu Curry Udon Noodle for our mains, a creamy, moreish, spicy and fragrant broth style curry dish with thick, rich noodles. We also had a favourite dish of ours, the Miso Glazed Aubergine, that we both love, and loved even more at the Aubrey. Oozing with umami Miso goodness, the aubergine was baked in sweet and savoury notes that wrapped it up into an absolutely delicious dish. We also had the Saikyo Miso Sablefish after the many recommendations of the waiting staff, the Aubrey’s rendition of a Miso Cod style dish, which was spectacular. Always a fan of Sablefish after my time in Vancouver where I discovered it, this was a lovely, delicate dish that allowed the Sablefish to shine with its soft, subtle meatiness as a fish that really does go so well with Miso. Brilliant. We continued this course with more of that fantastic Aubrey champagne. Honestly, just so delicious we couldn’t stop.
For dessert, our generous host brought out the Aubrey special, a. fantastically light and airy Miso Souffle. Finally, we moved away from the Champagne at this point in the evening to try a cocktail, opting for two Margaritas to finish the evening.
After a few hours of wining, dining, laughing, and feeling like absolute Queen’s getting treated to first class service and Michelin levels of delicious food, it is safe to say The Aubrey left us with a fantastic feeling. Never one to disappoint, the Mandarin Oriental proved again that it is capable of blowing away its guests with a memorable evening of all the very best that the fine dining world has to offer. We will absolutely be back. A plate of those Wagyu Gyoza’s have my name on it!
The Aubrey at Mandarin Oriental London