Lawyers love libraries. It is fortunate therefore that Celeste (located inside the the Lanesborough hotel, pictured) has its own, which patrons are encouraged to visit before sitting down for their food. This library is like no other – a library on steroids, or more particularly, spirits – and those spirits are of an age which will stagger even the most seasoned legal warriors (and, just as importantly, their clients). For example, the oldest cognac on the shelves is from 1770, the year that Blackstone became a High Court judge. And you can drink this stuff – but we should start at the beginning of the meal with our champagne.
We sampled a Provençal Bellini, with lavender and ginger cordial, and a Gentle Twinkle, based on elderflower and lemon grass – an exciting introduction to the meal.
We had the tasting menu. The bare details fail to do justice to the complexity of the cooking and the variety of flavours and textures which this talented kitchen presents. Executive head chef Florian Favario has been in charge since the restaurant reopened after refurbishment in October. The question is not whether he will win Michelin stars, but how many.
Our six courses began with a foie gras terrine, moved on to a pan-fried langoustine, poached cod, pigeon served with the most delightful oriental flavours, a fine cheeseboard and ended with a delicate Guanaja chocolate praline mousse.
The tasting menu comes with a hand-picked wine for each course. This meant that we had a tour of some of the less well-known but nonetheless fine vineyards of Europe as part of the meal: there was an Alsace, a Tuscan, a Weissburgunder, claret, port and sherry.
Fine dining of this order comes at a price: £140 a head in this case. But for the right client or personal celebration you will not be disappointed. And there are, of course, lawyers who will wish to return to the Celeste library to finish the meal in rousing fashion with a 1770 cognac. I refer of course to our US cousins, over 100 of whose law firms now populate the London legal quarter. How could they resist the temptation to sample a drink that was made six years before the US came into existence? One word of warning though; the 1770 is priced at £6,500. And that’s per tot, not per bottle. History doesn’t come cheap.
Christopher Rees is a consultant at Taylor Wessing
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