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Have you ever wondered exactly what lies behind the gilded doorways of some of London's grandest hotels? Take The Lanesborough for example. A hospital since the 18th century, it was turned into a hotel in the 90s and three years ago had a further multi-million pound renovation by the late Alberto Pinto. Net result - a hotel (and restaurant) where more is very definitely more.
If you're a little weary of communal tables, no reservations, a playlist you can't hear your dining companions over, then the restaurant here, Celeste, is where you take yourself to reboot. To begin with, the room really is a vision. The dining room is dominated by a huge glass dome - making it a particularly lovely place to take lunch - and if you're into details, then as you gaze up at the ceiling, ponder that 250 different mouldings were created to achieve the historic scene in bas-relief that surrounds the frise under the sky dome.
Running the kitchen here is Chef Steeven Gilles as Head Chef, overseen by Céleste Chef Patron Éric Fréchon who runs the three Michelin-star restaurant at Le Bristol in Paris. Gilles spent time at The Ledbury and Le Bristol before ending up at The Lanesborough and his mission here is to apply traditional French techniques to wonderful ingredients, much of them the best British seasonal produce this country has to offer.
Celeste's set lunch seems like a good entry-level way to enjoy all this opulence. We popped along as the hotel's guest to try out the Spring set lunch. The menu du jour (£39) has three options for each of three courses. Wine pairing is a further £40 - and our sommelier selection was particularly good - our favourite pairing being the Brundlmayer Reisling with our main course of roasted day boat cod with fresh peas in a shallot and chorizo stew with a saffron emulsion.
As is the way with set lunches in plush places, it may say three courses on the menu, but you always get more. Amuse bouches kicked off our lunch - a warm snail bonbon, a mini paddle with courgette and coconut and a tiny bowl of stone bass tartare with curry oil and the meal ended with a petit fours chocolate bauble that was smashed to reveal tiny pieces of fudge, caramelised walnuts and more.
In between, our starter of Heritage tomatoes featured a tartare of green zebra tomatoes, slices of larger, beef tomato and a scoop of beef tomato sorbet around which a 'pineapple' tomato juice was poured. Tons of flavour - and blessed relief against the rubbish watery tomatoes you'll find in most London delis or supermarkets.
Lemon dessert was as light as a feather with wafers of lemon meringue, cubes of Linzer Sablés and a lemon thyme sorbet to draw it together.
There was plenty to appeal to vegetarians in every course too.
The set lunch menu at Celeste at The Lanesborough is currently £39 with a glass of champagne until 1 August if you book online. The restaurant is open all day from 6.30am to 10.30pm. If you're after more of a tasting menu experience, those start at £80 for three courses and rise to £100 for five, which given that main courses can be as much as £43 seems like a better bet.
Celeste at The Lanesborough is at Hyde Park Corner, London SW1X 7TA. To book a menu other than the set menu du jour, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7259 5599. Book the menu du jour here. Keep up with their news on Twitter @TheLanesborough and on Instagram @the_lanesborough