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London: Apsley's Summer Menu

Apsley's- a Heinz Beck Restaurant
The Lanesborough Hotel, Hyde Park Corner, London, SW1X 7TA
+44 (0)20 7259 5599
Cuisine: Mediterranean
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Heinz Beck's summer menu is served- the first major menu overhaul since Apsley's opened last year. I dropped by to give it a try and what a treat. All eight sumptuous courses were stunners - infused with Beck's signature style - Mediterranean flavours, textures - what textures! and colours, carefully tailored to sit right inside an old English establishment.
The lavish, Tihany-designed decor of Apsley's is the perfect oasis from the sweltering bustle of London in full summer mode. Cool tones and the airy atrium glass ceiling calm the senses, whilst the vibrant Mediterranean flavours of this resident Michelin-star's invigorating new-season tasting menu coaxes them back to life.
A refreshing aperitif and it's straight onto the first course- scallop carpaccio, peas and artichoke vinaigrette. Pretty as a picture, the paper-thin slivers of scallop sit on a swirl of pea puree balanced nicely in a palate-enlivening vinaigrette. More fish to follow- this time, a Herbal infusion, poured with a flourish from a glass teapot, with tuna tartare and green tea sorbet- a veritable chaud-froid of loveliness, with an almost umami depth to the broth and a subtle kick of tannin from the green tea.
A more substantial-sounding dish comes in the form of Ricotta tortellini with fava beans- yet it manages to be almost as light as those preceding it. The pasta is tender, yielding to a creamy ricotta filling- the beans rich with the tomato that belies the Mediterranean theme throughout the menu.
Back to the ocean, with a Shellfish cannolo with aubergine. It's packed with langoustine, served warm and wrapped in faultless, melting filo pastry. The Fillet of sole which follows is paired with the inseparable duo of tomato and basil- deeply savoury, yet retaining that lightness.
Lamb with Mediterranean vegetables is the sole meat dish. The meat meltingly tender, its black olive crust a foil to its sweetness. Inspired stuff. We're six courses down, and feel neither overfed nor rushed. The staff are as warm as a ray of Sorrento sunshine somehow found its way up Marble Arch. And yet unobtrusive - the epitome of good service, the meal perfectly paced.
Even so, we're glad for the fresh flavours of a pudding - a vibrantly-hued, intense apricot jelly scattered with tiny teardrops of strawberry jelly. An ice cream flavoured with bergamot, meanwhile, captures the elusive taste exactly- citrusy, floral, slightly smoky.
Refreshed, surprised, enlivened- it's not the usual response to a 7-course menu. Yet the Apsley's not your usual venue, and Beck's not your usual chef. The food shines in an elegantly understated manner, reflecting the restaurant's atmosphere. Perfect summer eating.
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