Created by internationally renowned chef Heinz Beck, Apsleys showcases his style of "light cuisine of Mediterranean flavours". Kerstin Kühn reports
Heinz Beck is one of Italy's most famous culinary exports, which considering he's German is quite an achievement. He has run the world famous La Pergola at the Cavaleri hotel in Rome for more than 15 years and achieved three Michelin stars in 2006. In 2009, he came to London to open his eponymous restaurant at Apsleys at the Lanesborough hotel. In 2010, the restaurant gained its first Michelin star.
"Running a restaurant in London has proved a fantastic challenge," Beck enthuses. "It's a beautiful and cosmopolitan city which has served to fuel my drive for improvement and creativity."
He divides his time between here and Rome, visiting London once or twice a month to finalise menus. But it's executive chef Massimiliano Blasone, a protégé who has worked with Beck for more than a decade, who is in charge of the day-to-day running of the kitchen and its brigade of chefs, the majority of whom are Italian.
The 120-seat dining room is housed in the hotel's former Conservatory restaurant, which relaunched as Apsleys in 2008. Interiors were developed by New York design guru Adam D Tihany who has created a Venetian-style dining room, with a glass roof and plush upholstery set within an art deco-inspired dining room featuring breathtaking chandeliers.
Beck describes his food as a "light cuisine of Mediterranean flavours"; his cooking is healthy and inspired by flavours from all over the Mediterranean, not just Italy. "I use modern cooking methods but I'm not an extremist and I use techniques to make my plates healthier without sacrificing flavour," he explains. "It's important to me that the food I serve is easy to digest and good for my diners," he explains.
The menu is divided into antipasti, soups and starters, main courses and desserts, with a five- and seven-course tasting menu also on offer (£65/£85).
Things kick off with a tomato consommé with vegetable cappelletti (£18.50). Based on the traditional Sicilian dish pasta alla Norma, which is a combination of aubergine, tomatoes, basil and ricotta, it's much lighter than the original but no less bursting in flavour. "I kept the idea of the final taste in mind but the execution is more delicate and innovative," Beck explains.
Next up is one of Beck's signature dishes, carbonara fagottelli, which pays homage to the classic dish of spaghetti carbonara but with an innovative twist. "I created pasta parcels which, when pressed against the roof of your mouth, literally explode and fill it with the intense, rich flavours of the classic carbonara," the chef says.
Scallops with chilli pepper vinaigrette is a fairly recent addition to the menu, comprising a sweet and spicy dish. "We gently fry the scallops and offset the naturally sweet taste of the scallops with the hot chilli vinaigrette which equilibrates the flavours," Beck explains.
Finally. on to desserts and the signature "Chuao" chocolate dome is a chocoholic's dream. Made with Amedei chocolate from Italy, renowned as one of the best in the world, the idea behind the dish is that when you eat chocolate you want to feel chocolate. "We play with different textures; a fine chocolate crust around the ganache on top of the dome which is incredibly shiny and conceals the mousse and chocolate crisp inside," Beck says. "It allows for a fantastic explosion of taste and texture and a rich chocolate experience which is important, as when eating chocolate you expect and desire it to be rich."
Sample dishes from the menu
Fish crudo £30 Veal terrine £17
zuppe e primi
Pumpkin soup £15.50 Risotto with langoustine carpaccio £21
Dover sole, bread crust and ratatouille £29 Pigeon and mustard seed sauce £34
Apple and chocolate gianduja £12.50 Apricot jelly with ginger and rosemary ice-cream £12.50
Heinz Beck at Apsleys Hyde Park Corner, London SW1X 7TA
Tel: 020 8968 0202