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Pavyllon London review: Modern French dining from Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno

French fine dining just got taken up a notch thanks to this new opening at the Four Seasons on Park Lane, Alléno’s first in London

With 15 Michelin stars to his name, it’s hard to believe that the opening of Pavyllon London marks French chef Yannick Alléno’s first ever restaurant in the capital. Luckily, he’s created something more than worthy of his Parisian counterparts at the Four Seasons on Park Lane. This summer, it’s the place to come for superb French fine dining, with Alléno taking classic Gallic staples and making them sing. Here’s why Pavyllon London is our restaurant of the week.

Pavyllon Review: French Restaurant At The Four Seasons HotelPin

I first tasted Yannick Alléno’s food at Le Meurice in Paris in 2003 when he was the hot shot chef who’d just taken over the palace-hotel’s legendary gilded dining room. In my memory, it was my first three Michelin star meal; in actuality, it only had one star then (Alléno went on to win three by 2007), but to this Topshop-clad ninny, it sure felt like a three star. I could not have been more intimidated. What did we eat? Caviar? Oysters? Lobster? Foie gras? Nope. We shared a copper pot of braised lamb shoulder with pomme purée and a green salad. That simple. Twenty years later, I think about how good – and no longer quite so intimidated – it made me feel.

Pavyllon Review: French Restaurant At The Four Seasons HotelPin

All of which is to say that I was delighted to hear the news that Yannick Alléno, now holder of 15 Michelin stars across 19 restaurants worldwide, was to open his first London restaurant and bar at the Four Seasons Hotel at Park Lane. Pavyllon London and Bar Antoine (named after Alléno’s son who tragically died last year) opened at the start of July. Alléno, alas, is not always going to be in the house but we’re happy to find him at the restaurant’s ‘gastronomic counter’ on our visit, chatting to guests, twinkly and Gallic. Most diners are ushered straight there. There are conventional dining tables too, but the open kitchen action brings life to the otherwise sedate room. I’d recommend requesting a spot there.

Pavyllon Review: French Restaurant At The Four Seasons HotelPin
Yannick Alléno at Pavyllon London

Alléno is known as a moderniser. A chef who looks back to move forward. He’s pioneered and patented his own extraction techniques for making sauces, and uses fermentation and cryoconcentration, whatever that is, to harness flavour. There are a few contemporary cheffy touches to the menu – a mussel ice cream, a pomegranate veil, powdered herb salad – as well as what sounds like ‘70s throwbacks: veal cordon bleu, for example, beef stroganoff, crêpe soufflée, smoked salmon ‘frivolité. French cuisine has not exactly been the dernier cri in the UK in decades, but for those of us who’d never given up on it (you wouldn’t have done if you’d been at Le Meurice with me), it’s music to our ears. As Alléno himself says: every great classic is avant-garde.

Pavyllon Review: French Restaurant At The Four Seasons HotelPin
Surf & Turf
Pavyllon Review: French Restaurant At The Four Seasons HotelPin
Ravioles
“A £58 set lunch is available and it includes my dish of the year so far: a steamed cheddar soufflé with watercress coulis and bacon butter. I eat it up with a spoon like it’s sophisticated baby food. Given the chance, I’d eat it every day.”
Pavyllon Review: French Restaurant At The Four Seasons HotelPin
Soufflé Cheddar
Pavyllon Review: French Restaurant At The Four Seasons HotelPin
Lasagnes Vertes

Just don’t come looking for la cuisine grandmère. Alléno’s food is highly technical, refined and eye-wateringly expensive. First courses are upwards of £25 (£58 for the king crab); main courses can be well over £50, though there’s pasta from £19. Note, a £58 set lunch is available and it includes my dish of the year so far: a steamed cheddar soufflé with watercress coulis and bacon butter. I eat it up with a spoon like it’s sophisticated baby food. Given the chance, I’d eat it every day. The smoked salmon with blinis à la minute is pedestrian by comparison, the à la minute blinis minute. We squeeze in a mid-course of lasagne, just to see what Alléno does with it. It’s very ‘French’, the sauce rich and reduced, and comes with a parmesan crisp and crisp green salad. Delicious. I can also recommend the lamb chop “thick and juicy” with anchoïade. The menu doesn’t lie; it really is thick and juicy!

Pavyllon Review: French Restaurant At The Four Seasons HotelPin
Filet Sole Au Plat
Pavyllon Review: French Restaurant At The Four Seasons HotelPin
Aiguillettes Bar

The surplus-to-requirements lasagne leaves us no room for dessert. A spot of Stilton and a glass of port closes proceedings nicely. Alléno pours himself a drop and raises his glass. London should be good to him.

THE LOWDOWN:

Meal for two (with wine): £210

Signature Dishes: Steamed cheddar soufflé, watercress coulis, bacon butter

What to drink: Pomerol


Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane, Hamilton Place, Mayfair, London W1J 7DR
pavyllonlondon.com

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