Boisdale of Mayfair is an epicurean bolthole disguised as a 1920’s public house. Small in stature – housed in one of Mayfair’s converted stables – the shellfish and cigar specialist is a cosy, music-filled culinary dream. Bright red walls peek through a curation of an impressive collection of paintings and framed jazz greats, while tartan carpeting reminds you that you’re entering Scottish territory – that and the haggis on the menu.
The first stop at Boisdale is the bar, but not the one on the ground floor when you first enter, the one on the lower ground floor that’s set back in a dimly lit corner. An extensive cocktail list nodding to early-turn-of-the-last-century greats sets the tone for a nostalgia-inducing evening. The bartender, taking a two-word cue: light and refreshing or smoky and smooth, knows exactly what to serve each guest to get the evening off to a perfect liquid start. We went for a classic Old Fashioned – Boisdale’s most noteworthy bourbon offering, and a gin-based, citrus-infused White Lady.
Relocating one floor up and half a floor down, tucked just under a mezzanine and right below the live pianist, we delved into a well-thought-out menu – a beautiful piece of work in itself with Art Deco embellishments and a contemporary blend of fonts.
We made a promise to ourselves to return for a feast of oysters, and turned to the British Tapas section to get things started. The scallops with salsa verde were prepared to faultless precision – and this is coming from an editorial team that spends a lot of time in the Canadian Maritimes – the source for scallops. The exceedingly thick medallions were gently salted and pan sautéed for a seared outside and a succulent centre. We also shared a curried lobster empanada. The exterior pastry was light and golden and the morsels of lobster were faintly curried – a flavour balance that made for a unique palate teaser. Staying true to the seafood theme, the crispy pepper and chilli squid was our third shared starter. Lightly breaded and deep-fried with a creamy and piquant dipping sauce, these would make for a great bar snack as well.
On to the mains. The maître d' suggested the bone-in fillet, and since it is oft hard to come by in the capital, we obliged. The grass-fed, Aberdeenshire beef did not disappoint. Juicy, flavourful and paired with a side portion of thick-cut chips enhanced with truffle oil, rosemary and Parmesan flakes – it hit the spot. The second main of steaming lobster on linguini dressed in garlic, chilli and lemon also went down a treat.
Do not leave Boisdale without exploring the Something Else… menu. There are over twenty-five British cheeses and a mouth-watering edit of dessert wines, ports and sherries, whisky, cigars, small savouries like haggis and Welsh rarebit and of course, puddings. Somehow we managed to fit in a slice a chocolate mousse cake and a vanilla cheesecake that could rival anything baked in NYC in both taste and texture. Both were topped with huge dollop of rich Chantilly cream.
We definitely see Boisdale of Mayfair working its way into our regular dining ritual.
Words by Courtney Blackman