Is there anything more Scottish than Burns night? Bagpipers, haggis, and readings of Robert Burn’s famous poems usually make up a traditional supper. Luckily, for London-based Scots, there are many options for where to spend January 25th. Skylight Rooftop Bar, Docklands tobaccodocklondon.com/skylight/ London’s rooftop ice skating rink and bar is organising an alternate Burns night
48 Albemarle Street
Mayfair, London W1S 4DH
0207 629 0236
Cocktail connoisseurs may be familiar with the name Tony Conigliaro. The world-class bartender, known for his involvement in the likes of 69 Colebrooke Row and Untitled, has been called the ‘Heston Blumenthal of drinking’, delivering concoctions worthy of a Michelin star. His first restaurant is no different. Gazelle is his first foray into Mayfair and the world of fine dining, but has all the hallmarks of a Conigliaro classic – a flavour-first drinking and dining experience that surprises and satisfies.
A bit of background
Tony is the brains and brawn behind some of London’s finest drinking dens, starting with 69 Colebrooke Row) and following up with Bar Termini, Zetter Townhouse (in both Marylebone and Clerkenwell) and Untitled. He is also the co-founder of The Drink Factory, a creative space and research centre, where he and his team focus on developing liquid flavours, as well as new concoctions.
With Gazelle, he has reunited with culinary partner in crime, Rob Roy Cameron, an El Bulli alum who he collaborated with at Untitled. Housed in the heart of Mayfair on Albemarle Street, it offers a menu ordered by flavour profile, with lighter dishes sitting on the left, moving through to more intense flavours on the right, finishing off with desserts. As expected, the drinks offering is a perfect match to the fare, with a focus on cocktails and Champagne.
If your principal is on the hunt for carbs, this is not the place for them – even the bread is hidden at the bottom of the menu. However, this doesn’t mean there is something lacking.
The plates are small, but designed to share and are simple in their execution, with the quality of ingredients allowed to shine. We start with oysters, served with a yeast emulsion, and the cucumber, coconut and Oscietra caviar, both of which are beautifully delicate. From there, it’s onto the squid, presented as a faux-tagliatelle, topped with girolles and laced with sandalwood-cured jowl fat. The unique combination is a masterclass in subtle flavours, with the smoky nature of the squid sitting in contrast to the tart mushrooms and rich pork fat.
The faux-pasta journey continues with the mushroom, where strands of enoki ‘spaghetti’ are served in a pine nut and wild garlic sauce. It’s at this point we relish in our ordering of the fennel and spelt bread, soaking up every drop of the silky sauce.
Our descent into rich flavours begins with the turbot, a melt-in-mouth fillet simply presented with sea herbs, and continues with pig tails, accompanied by Jerusalem artichokes, and a standout fillet of beef, dusted with a combination of juniper and salted plum. The fish and beef were particular highlights, so much so that we order a second round.
The delicate nature of Gazelle’s menu means we still have room for dessert, but with what’s on offer, we’re not complaining. We opt for the savoury-leaning chocolate, passionfruit and summer savoury, as well as the black sesame, mango, pink pepper and rose vinegar. Both continue the theme of simple flavours done very well and act as the ideal finish to our meal.
We choose to forgo cocktails for wine, starting with a glass of Champagne before moving onto a bottle of white, then red. The concise list balances classics with a few left-of-centre drops, ensuring there’s something for every palate.
Gazelle is only accessible by a private lift (or stairs, should you be so inclined), so the ground floor isn’t much more than an entryway. However, upon entering the first floor, where Gazelle’s restaurant sits, the flourishes of luxury are immediately obvious. Red and gold are the dominating colours, appearing in the velvet chairs and the walls, alongside marble-topped tables and gold fixtures. Accessible via a spiral staircase, the bar area is suitably sleek, with velvet and marble appearing once again, albeit in darker shades.
The service is attentive without being overbearing, although when we visited in its first few weeks, there were a few teething issues when it came to the airing of the wine. That said, our server was incredibly knowledgeable about the fare on offer and answered all questions we had with ease.
Gazelle brings a little of East London to Mayfair’s streets, delivering small plates that pack a punch. Coupled with Tony Conigliaro’s approach to delicious drinking, it’s a culinary choice that your principal can disappear into, resurfacing a few hours later feeling incredibly satisfied.