I've long been an advocate for making time to spend with the people who put a smile on your face. London can be a rather difficult beast to arrange such rendezvous(es?) unless you get a date in the diary 6 weeks in advance, or send out a bat signal the day before.
Disclaimer: We were invited guests to try the Best of British menu at Hunter 486 of but all of my very, very many thoughts are only ever my own...
My dinner at Hunter 486 with the lovely Mina, overlord of Kings Road Rocks was just such an occasion. Realising I hadn't seen her in an age, I just needed a couple of hours nattering with her. It was one of those lightbulb moments and cancelling my dinner date with Mr Kiwi, within an hour or so we had thrown off the shackles of married life and arranged a girlie evening the next day.
Normally, I'm fairly wary of eating in hotel restaurants but I loved the accents around The Arch hotel that made it more of a luxurious and cosy townhouse retreat for further girly dinners.
Intriguingly named after the 1950s dialling prefix for Marylebone, Hunter 486 is hidden within the The Arch a private 5-star boutique hotel a few minutes from the namesake Marble Arch. My favourite fact about this triumphant London landmark was that it was designed by John Nash in 1827 to be the state entrance to the cour d'honneur of Buckingham Palace and was (allegedly) widened especially to accommodate the Queen's dresses before for short time becoming one of London's smallest police stations.
The design ethos is on point for a London townhouse retreat - funky artwork along the walls, sofas to snuggle into, beautiful light fixtures and cozy restaurant booths for secluded chatting. The Library is perfect for reclining in with a good book (and cocktail), the artwork of a bright silhouette of a local shopper made from neighbourhood materials which has to be seen to be believed and it all makes for a relaxing visit in luxury no matter why you are visiting. We began our evening in the sunshine with glasses of prosecco and a bread platter, and (unfortunately, where did the time go?) dashed out into the moonlit night replete with satisfaction.
We were trying their newly updated menu, featuring the Best of British seasonal ingredients cooked by Head Chef Gary Durrant (previously of the Savoy) with well executed, classical french flare. We both could have ordered more exciting dishes, but the tone of our evening was classic comfort.
Whilst Mina enjoyed the salmon tartare served with pickled cucumber and crème fraiche, I tried the lovely chilled cucumber and avocado soup with brown shrimp. The mark of how good a dish is, often plays out how quickly it disappears in between chatting, and these disappeared with lightening speed. I can't vouch for Mina's, but my soup was refreshing and intriguing.
We then took an age to decide what our mains would be as the choice was almost too hard. Around and around we went, sitting on the fence until we settled on the black leg chicken, peas, girolles, smoked bacon & thyme, and Flat Iron steak with a choice of sauces and chips respectively.
My mountainous serving of black leg chicken was delectable classic and beautifully seasoned. The errant girolles (photographic speaking) were the perfect foil for such a hearty dish. My eyes were far bigger than my appetite when I greedily order the sweet potato fries - my Kiwi heart was unable to resist.
Mina's steak, accompanied with a classic glass of Melbec from their extensive wine list looked terrific as our conversation meandered from books, to travel, to life to recent adventures as we ignored the global doom and gloom, for an evening at least.
Our appetites sated, we opened the dessert menu and debated the various options, but contrary to blogger convention we simply couldn't resist matching chocolate fondants (and a glass of their lovely dessert wine). Giggling our way to agreeing that we would probably be struck off the blogosphere for such an infraction, we dove in spoons first.
As we finished our glasses (and subsequently panicked at how late the time was) it was with sadness that we took our leave of the nostalgically stylish hotel.
It was lovely to look around and see private tables of friends laughing over cocktails, hotel guests greeted by friendly recognition and the occasional frazzled business guest hunched over a laptop with dinner. With their express menu, Hunter 486 is definitely going into our post-Oxford Street shopping meal rotation for those thyme-scented girolles alone...
Ps. spot prize for the correctly spotted amount of Rolling Stones lyrics I managed to mangle/sneak in...