I lived in London in the late nineties and sadly had never made it to Le Caprice. It was a haunt for the rich and famous and always had a massive waiting list. As I could never plan ahead thanks to my crazy schedule, I missed the opportunity to eat there. Princess Diana called it her “home from home”, now endorsements don’t come much better than that.
Located in the heart of Mayfair, in St James’s, the restaurant is a stone’s throw from The Ritz, and also Bond Street is nearby.
On my most recent visit to London, I had the foresight to book well in advance. And I was lucky as the restaurant with Head Chef Will Halsall at the helm, has just recently launched a new initiative the “Apertivo Hour” from 3 pm-7 pm, offering guests a sharing platter filled with Le Caprice’s famous dishes.
The restaurant is part of Caprice Holdings, owned by Richard Caring who owns a whole host of fabulous restaurants in the UK, the most famous perhaps being the Ivy.
Opened in 1947 by Mario Gallati, former Maître d’ of The Ivy, it was relaunched in 1981 and quickly became a social institution with a devoted international clientele who enjoy unsurpassed service and a lively atmosphere, expertly marshaled by its Director, Jesus Adorno.
The restaurant was pivotal as one of a small number of pioneering establishments that challenged the institutionalized methods used for formal dining: service was more confident, menus less formulaic and standards were softened. This novel approach combined the best of what the American and French had to offer, creating a new genre of restaurant altogether. And, at the heart of Le Caprice’s remit is an always fresh and imaginative menu with international influence throughout, sourced from the finest suppliers, along with seamless service.
With its black and white décor and long dining bar, Le Caprice is a model of urban elegance, steeped in a rich history. In September 2011, the restaurant received a design refresh by Martin Brudnizki with touches including black oak panels, beveled mirrors and a new black marble floor with a white double inlay border. A larger reception area was created by a back-lit ivory onyx bar with granite counter and 12 dining stools. Outside, royal blue awnings and topiary planters adorn the terrace for all-day dining overlooking the bustle of St James’s.
The interior decor is rather simple and it is a pleasure to dine in, the black and white decor has a rather soothing effect. The walls are adorned with black and white snaps of celebrities and royalty, from a beautiful image of Diana with her boys to an iconic shot of Elton John. All of the photographs have been taken by world-renowned photographer John Swannell, and have been on display since January.
Our fellow diners were all very elegant and well-spoken, we engaged in conversation with the lady at the table next to us, my sister was convinced she was a famous actress! I just wanted to know the name of the dessert she was having, it looked delicious and she was making haste with it!
The Apertivo Hour consists of a platter of light and indulgent bites. We had opted for the pescetarian version of the platter, therefore we were treated to scallops topped with a delicious chili and coriander garnish which tasted of summer! Delectable popcorn shrimp tempura with spicy mayonnaise, tuna ceviche with avocado, deep girolle and manchego croquettes and of course caviar served with blinis all accompanied by a small bottle of Laurent Perrier Champagne.
Just the right amount of food for an Apertivo Hour. Did Le Caprice live up to my high expectations? Yes, it certainly did and I hope to be back soon to sample the regular menu.