This review will be of value to the busiest and most successful solicitors. They will be reaching the end of the year only to realise that they have failed to book anywhere for the staff Christmas lunch. Finding somewhere decent at such short notice is pretty well impossible. Unless, that is, you know about Amaranto.
Amaranto is a cosy Italian restaurant just off the bottom of Park Lane. This allows you to take staff for a meal they will never forget and then they can either depart across the road to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland or walk up Piccadilly for some final Christmas shopping. And in case you’re worried about cost (always a key consideration), rest reassured that the three-course festive menu is £32 per person. Some pubs charge nearly as much and you would not get the amuse-bouche, appetisers, pre-deserts and petit fours which come with Amaranto’s festive fare.
So, if you are in the happy position of coming to the end of a successful calendar year and need to thank staff for their efforts (and just as importantly to motivate them further for the year to come), then pick up the phone to Giuseppe, the marvellously welcoming Amaranto manager, and see if he can fit you in. It really is one of the (as yet) undiscovered jewels in the London dining crown.
Solicitors sometimes fail to appreciate the motivational value of holding great staff parties. They do not need to be big - sometimes it works best when small practice groups or departments go out together, rather than the full firm - but what is certain is that if you throw a truly great Christmas party you will still be reaping the rewards 12 months later when everybody is talking about the next party with such fond memories of the last one, and so the cycle goes on. If you do not believe me then think back to your own first great office party. I can still remember fondly the great Freshfields parties of my youth in 1977 and 1978.
Staff Christmas meals need a certain degree of familiarity to hit the mark. The key component is turkey and all the trimmings, and Christmas pudding with a high fruit and alcohol content. There also needs to be a small but sufficient selection of appropriate starters and alternative main courses and puddings to allow for the variety of tastes. Amaranto has judged its offering well. You can choose between a decadently rich goose liver terrine with dried figs and apricot on a sherry reduction, or a gin and tonic-soaked smoked salmon and a rather more politically correct and no doubt healthier beetroot salad for starters. As a main course alternative there is a pasta with the most delicious white truffle and a formal vegetarian option. The black forest cremeux with amarena cherries and a sour-cherry sorbet is a worthy alternative to Christmas pud.
You may be thinking, this is all very well but would my staff really enjoy another same old Christmas dinner? The answer is that this is anything but the same old Christmas dinner. Amaranto has given the turkey dinner a whole new style and éclat. The key, as always, is ingredients. The turkey is the highest quality, as are the cranberries for the sauce, while the sprouts, parsnips, bacon overlay and the apricot stuffing are all perfectly presented. This is the classic English Christmas dinner served with the style of a top Italian kitchen. It is a powerful combination.
The menu choices are also supplemented by clever seasonal additions to make the meal even more memorable. Some rice dumplings as an appetiser, a pumpkin truffle brulee with amaretti biscuit (which would make even the most homesick American feel a sense of Thanksgiving), and the yoghurt and fig sauce pre-desert is as healthy and life-giving a dish as you are likely to consume in the next 12 months. If you have the capacity for it, as you should at a Christmas party, there are the most delicious coffee liquors to be enjoyed after the meal. One even revels in the name Lamborghini. Like the car, it will set your pulse racing.
No Christmas party should be enjoyed without appropriate wines to accompany the food. At this point I would refer you to the ever-attentive Fernando, Amaranto’s sommelier. Enjoy the wonderfully complementary wines for the food, but also, as the wine list is focused on Italian growers, you will, if you take his advice (I recommend that you do), find that you are not only enjoying some novel grapes and blends, but also benefiting from the relatively lower premium which Italian wines enjoy on a restaurant’s wine list as compared to the better-known French vineyards.
Amaranto has the great ability to surprise and delight. I hope that if the busy practitioner addressed above has had the time to get this far in the review, they will find that a booking that proved to be well worthwhile.
Amaranto, the Four Seasons Hotel, Park Lane, London, W1, 020 7499 0888
If you would like to submit a restaurant review to the Gazette, please contact Nicholas Goodman at Nicholas.email@example.com