The Wellesley is one of London’s newest luxury hotels, situated in a prime location in Knightsbridge, opposite Hyde Park (the former site of Pizza on the Park.)
Walking into the hotel, a grand entrance hallway led to the reception of their Italian restaurant, the Oval, past the main hotel reception, and several adjoining bars and lounges. Staff were friendly throughout, from the doorman, to the hotel reception desk and the restaurant reception.
We had arrived a little early for our dinner slot, so decided to have a pre-dinner glass of bubbly to celebrate P’s birthday. While there was a choice of seating areas for this, we decided to go out on to their cigar terrace, since it was a fine, warm evening.
Once the clock struck 19.30, we headed back to the restaurant. The room itself is small, and oval in shape (hence the name), designed in the art deco style which runs throughout the hotel. There’s only room for a handful of diners, making it ideal for a quiet couple’s dinner.
Despite the diminutive scale of the restaurant (it felt a bit like sitting in a jewel box), there were several waiting staff. Service was friendly and well organised, with seamless transitions between the various staff over the evening, and engaging but not over-attentive service, just the right balance. We ordered from the set dinner menu, which came with a glass of prosecco, The bubbly arrived promptly, together with a tasty amuse bouche of salmon on a crouton.
For the starter, I chose the intriguing-sounding Asparagus Gratin with Sage and Chicken’s liver. I like asparagus, sage and liver, but had never tried them combined in one dish. When it arrived,the tender asparagus and well-cooked, meaty liver went together very nicely indeed, with the sage and cheese contributing to a very pleasant combination of flavours and textures-
I opted for Taglioni with Clams and Bottarga for the main course- while not usually a pasta fan, I wanted to see what a fine dining Italian restaurant would do with some boring old pasta. I wasn’t disappointed- this turned out to be an absolutely delicious dish, with the taglioni cooked to be just soft enough, and the clams juicy and fresh, while the bottarga added a wonderfully robust, salty flavour-
For dessert, the waitress recommended the Mascarpone Cheese Mousse with Strawberries, and this certainly didn’t disappoint either. While I’m more used to Mascarpone in thicker textures, here we had a light, creamy mousse with a generous filling of fresh strawberries- a fine summer dessert, though probably not for anyone on a diet-
P chatted to the waitress, who happened to hail from Hamburg, just like her, and after she realised it was P’s birthday, she brought a little birthday cake with a candle, which was a lovely touch-
Overall, the Oval Restaurant can be highly recommended for an intimate dinner, particularly if you’re a fan of Art Deco, with charming and engaging staff, and true fine dining Italian cuisine.