Boisdale of Mayfair is the newest and smallest of the Boisdale family of four – the other restaurants are in Belgravia, Canary Wharf and Bishopsgate. They are owned by the eccentric cigar-loving Ranald Macdonald, who is descended from Highland aristocrats and has a reputation for being “a bit of a character”.
This addition landed in Mayfair exactly a year ago this month and has been dishing out Scottish fare from a converted listed stables with decor that gives off the archetypal air of an old boys club: dark red furnishings, mahogany panelling and a mounted stag’s head to finish the look.
While this may sound like a testosterone overload (there’s also a cigar terrace), it is in fact rather charming and unpretentious. Live jazz and blues plays throughout the evening, complimented by a cheerful buzz of chatter and clinking glasses. The service is also exceptional – thanks to the intimate setting the waiters actually have time to converse with the diners. It’s a pleasant change to your average London restaurant experience.
This is also a place where you are encouraged to imbibe, aided by a vast choice of wines, whiskeys and cocktails and a selection of signature tipples.
There are some very fine wines – one, a bottle of Château Pétrus 1995, is on the menu for £2040. Thankfully most are in the £25-£60 bracket, and we enjoyed a delightfully crisp bottle of Pinot Grigio Grave de Friulli for under £30.
Now the food: starters and mains are a blend of traditional Scottish fare (including fish & game of the day) and choice of five “Boisdale Burgers”. There’s also a dedicated shellfish menu and selection of British tapas.
For our first course we sampled two joyously runny haggis scotch quails eggs and a small bowl of soup of the day: a sensationally rich and creamy parsnip and apple with white truffle oil accompanied by crusty bread and creamy butter.
Next, for me, were seared hand-dived Scottish King and ever so tender Scallops with quince, haggis crumbs & Boisdale Claret sauce – a delightful combination. The traditional haggis accompaniment, though well spiced, was an over-generous portion.
My partner chose the half grilled lobster, which came with a lip-smacking chilli and garlic butter.
For the main event I tucked into the fish of the day: a generous portion of roasted Cornish cod with saffron dressing, purple kale and tasty dollops of Jerusalem artichoke puree.
I couldn’t resist ordering a side of truffle, rosemary & Parmesan chips, which were chunky, crisp and very satisfying. My partner opted for a plate of Devonshire crab linguine which he tucked into with great relish.
At this point we were reaching full saturation level, and had decided to call it a day. That was until we spotted the cheese counter at the bar, proudly displaying more than 30 British cheeses. Our charming waitress took us to the counter and helped us make our selection, to down with a glass of 20 year old Tawny port.
For us the cheese was the highlight of the evening: each one distinctive and so very, very tasty.
Verdict: Boisdale of Mayfair is a cosy and eclectic venue with an extravagant, yet affordable menu. It’s a place to celebrate, indulge and be merry. The food may not be the most refined, but it is generously portioned and very enjoyable. The music is excellent, as is the service.
When: Boisdale of Mayfair is open Monday to Friday from 07.30 – 00.00, Saturday from 11.00 – 00.00 and Sunday from 12.00 – 22.00.
The restaurant has just launched a Wild and Foraged Tasting Menu, serving six different signature Boisdale dishes for £60.
Getting there: the nearest station is Marble Arch. Boisdale of Mayfair, 12 N Row, Mayfair, London W1K 7DF