After a full refurbishment and with a new progressive menu, seafood restaurant One-O-One is looking to finally break into the top end of London's dining scene. Tom Vaughan reports
In the nine years Pascal Proyart has headed up the kitchen at One-O-One in the Sheraton Park Tower hotel he has gained a reputation as one of the most underrated chefs on the London dining scene. In fact, rumours had it that his classically based seafood cuisine might have earned a Michelin star in a ritzy stand-alone restaurant.
Such claims, though, he is quick to rubbish. "Over the years the hotel has given me unbelievable support and by giving me carte blanche with ingredients has let me turn out the food I want to," he says.
Lately the hotel has upped its support, giving the ground-floor restaurant an £800,000 refurbishment and Proyart a three-month sabbatical to broaden his culinary horizons.
The result has transformed the site from top-end-almost to Michelin-star-probable. The light, airy room is split between a drinks lounge and a formal sit-down area, both subtly exclusive of each other. The hotel feel that permeated the site has virtually disappeared. White, wavy reliefs dot the walls like sandy vestiges of high tide and, alongside a 12ft bar styled as a stretched oyster shell, give a gentle littoral feel. And the soft wood and white tablecloths are eloquent top-end choices.
The change in cuisine has, in Proyart's own words, seen the chef "express myself a bit more than in the last few years". Stints in Michelin-starred kitchens in France, Spain and Belgium during his sabbatical brought new techniques into his repertoire, and the largely classical menu that was One-O-One's hallmark is now infused with modern twists and touches.
The menu is split into four sections: High Tide, Sea and Earth, Low Tide and, finally, Shore. The Low Tide section plays host to a selection of oyster dishes, including tempura with soya wasabi pipettes (£8), where the waiter injects the dressing into the lightly battered meat at the table, lest it become a soggy mess in the kitchen. Gently crispy with a mix of sea and eastern salts, it's the highlight among the oyster selection.
A business lunch deal is available at £15 for two courses, £19 for three or £24 for four, serving scaled-down versions of the Á la carte options. And in among all the seafood is the overriding success of the past month - slow-cooked roast pheasant with vine leaf and autumn truffle, endives and foie gras charlotte, chestnut mousse and wild cranberry sauce poivrade. The soft, buttery layer of foie gras cuts through the gamey meat and marries with the chestnut superbly. It's been so popular that Proyart has had to remind his waiting staff that One-O-One is known as a seafood restaurant.
Among the desserts are minted fresh raspberry with pink Champagne jelly and white chocolate sorbet (£6) and the fresh, clear juniper berries and white chocolate mousse, lemon sorbet and soft gin and tonic jelly (£6).
The classical cooking that was Proyart's style in the old Oneâ'Oâ'One is still the basis of the menu, but the new modern edge to the food has taken the restaurant to new levels. The hope, Proyart says, is that this will be the launch pad for the long-overdue catapulting of One-O-One firmly into the highest order. "My goal is to get this place two stars," he says. "Maybe we opened too late for the [Michelin] guide this year, but certainly the aim is to get a first one in the next 18 months, and the second, hopefully, in the next three to four years."
What's on the menu
- Three Tsarkaya oysters from Cancale chilled with shallot vinegar, £7
- Brittany blue lobster macedoine, red king crab pastille, aromatic dressing, apple sorbet, £14
- Red tuna tartare with soft-shell crab tempura, sushi rice and wasabi sorbet, £12
- Pan-seared langoustines and duck foie gras, Peking duck consommé, hoisin froth, £13
- Confit Norwegian salmon with a green pea velouté, Granreserva Joselito ham, roasted hazelnut, £9
- Wild sea bass fillet cooked in basil oil, barigole sauce, artichokes and Parmesan compote, olive tapenade provenÁ§ale, £14
- Chilled poached red cherry and tonka consommé, vanilla ice-cream and churros, £6
- Spiced bread panna cotta and soft strawberry, £6
- Abinao chocolate cream with jasmine foam and William pear sorbet, £6
One-O-One, Sheraton Park Tower, 101 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RN. Tel: 020 7290 7101. Website: www.oneoonerestaurant.com