While the celebs have stayed the course at sister restaurant The Ivy, for the most part, they drifted away from Le Caprice favouring Mayfair's revolving door of newer venues. All this could have challenged Le Caprice's identity and indeed viability, but instead, the restaurant continues to flourish. What they've done is a fantastic job at evolving away from the fashion set to one that offers wider appeal as a restaurant which delivers a consistently solid experience of: good food, friendly service and congenial atmosphere. They're to be congratulated for what they've achieved.
This is not the first time we've been to Le Caprice or the second. Or even the third. I've been coming to Le Caprice (irregularly admittedly) for over a decade and I remember it especially (in what must have been Mark Hix's day) for a brilliant bone in ribeye, the best I had ever tasted at the time, though it was some years ago now. As I look back over all those meals, I now remember it principally for never letting me down which is in itself no mean feat over such a spread of years.
What they have created at Le Caprice is an environment that you can enjoy if you're there with your wife/husband, girlfriend/boyfriend, but also where you can take your parents, or indeed your children and still feel welcomed. That's quite an achievement too and they do it well. We've taken our parents to Le Caprice and they loved it. MrsCC has been there with a friend with her young daughter and the restaurant gave her a colouring set to keep her entertained. It seems to be the right restaurant for all occasions and so we found ourselves choosing to have our first wedding anniversary lunch there. Or brunch rather because it's a Sunday.
That takes us on to the food. We should first say that we've never had a bad meal there. The food is in fact very good, but it doesn't quite reach the highs of stopping the prevailing conversion for anyone around the table to exclaim 'wow, that's amazing'. But also near guaranteed is that you'll never have to stop the conversation to say 'wow, that sucks,' for it never does. The food is reliable and there to satisfy rather than push culinary frontiers; they don't have a Michelin star but neither they, nor their customers it seems, are too bothered by that. Main course items include salmon fishcakes, the Caprice burger, rib eye steak and pork chops in a menu that encompasses over a dozen options for the main course alone.
On Sunday, through till 5pm it's the brunch menu that gives you additional options ranging from a pitcher of Bloody Mary or Buck's Fizz through to smoked salmon with scrambled eggs. This takes us on to our own choices for today: we started with Steak tartare and the aforementioned smoked salmon with scrambled eggs, and for mains, Chicken alla Milanese (with parsley, lemon and garlic) and deep fried haddock with minted pea puree, chips and tartare sauce (so fish and chips with mushy peas then).
With our plates mostly cleared, we were also pretty full when desserts were offered and desserts such as lemon sponge pudding with custard or chocolate fondant seemed too much. Instead, we had a plate of Scandinavian iced berries with hot white chocolate sauce. The plate came with these beautifully tiny strawberries, raspberries, red currants, blueberries etc. The dish was a great contrast between hot and cold, sweet chocolate and acidic fruit and frozen crunch and hot liquid chocolate. Beautiful colours too.
So, rather than enter its middle years sulking that the celebs are gone, they've embraced the change and in doing so, they embrace you too. And because they're consistent and reliable, you don't have to worry about the restaurant letting you down, they simply wont, and that frees you up to enjoy the people you are with. Sometimes, that's exactly what you want from a restaurant.
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