Saturday, 9 January 2016

A Night in Mayfair - Cartizze & Hakkasan

Cartizze.  You can find it in Lancashire Court which is a teeny tiny cobbled street that wouldn't look out of place in a Harry Potter film!  The bar is quite small with dark wood and low lighting which made it feel very cosy.


It's that time of year where there are a lot of work parties and nights out - it's a great way to visit places you might not normally go to and spend time with work friends outside of the office (usually with a few drinks under their belts!).

An invite arrived in my inbox for a team night out for cocktails and dinner.  I clicked the "accept" button and didn't really look at where we were going until much later on...when I did, I got really excited!  I mean, extremely exited.  First up on the agenda was Cartizze, a dark and cosy bar hidden down a cobbled street with an extensive cocktail menu, and then to Hakkasan which is a Michelin star Cantonese restaurant just by Berkeley Square Gardens.  Michelin star?!  Oh wow...

First up, Cartizze.  You can find it in Lancashire Court which is a teeny tiny cobbled street that wouldn't look out of place in a Harry Potter film!  The bar is quite small with dark wood and low lighting which made it feel very cosy.


Cartizze.  You can find it in Lancashire Court which is a teeny tiny cobbled street that wouldn't look out of place in a Harry Potter film!  The bar is quite small with dark wood and low lighting which made it feel very cosy.


The twelve of us wedged ourselves in a corner and poured over the drinks menu.  Some of my colleagues just went for beers but I got stuck in straight away with cocktails and ordered the "Chinese Lantern" because it sounded very similar to a cocktail I'd fallen in love with a couple of months ago. When it arrived I was delighted!  To give it a "Chinese lantern" feel, it was cocooned in Chinese newspaper with a physalis perched on the rim of the glass. It was sweet and tart at the same time and I thought the passionfruit, lemon and vanilla were a perfect combination.


Cartizze, Mayfair.  I ordered the Chinese Lantern because it sounded very similar to a cocktail I'd fallen in love with a couple of months ago.  To give it a Chinese lantern feel, it was cocooned in Chinese newspaper with a physalis perched on the rim of the glass. It was sweet and tart at the same time and I thought the passionfruit, lemon and vanilla were a perfect combination.


My second cocktail was the "Decadence" - gin, vanilla meringue emulsion and raspberries...every time I took a sip, all I could smell were fresh raspberries.  I really don't like gin whatsoever (or most spirits, surprisingly!) but you really couldn't taste it and if we stayed any longer I would have ordered a second one.  The meringue emulsion was fun to try to drink through and I may have sported a frothy moustache a couple of times...




Feeling a little merry after the wonderful drinks, we took a five minute wander to Hakkasan.

Having never been to a Michelin starred restaurant, I had no idea what to expect but thought it would be very different to any restaurant I've ever visited.  I wasn't disappointed - the long narrow hallway leads to the coat check and then to the front desk.  There was a dining area to the left but our party were led down the stairs illuminated with a water-y projection and scented with sticks of incense.  




The dining room our table was in was surrounded by decorative Chinese style wooden frames, was very dark (hence the not-so-great pictures to follow!) and quite loud because it was absolutely packed!

As we were dining as a large party we had a set menu where plates of food were brought out for each course and we were able to just pick at whatever we wanted to try.

Our first taste of what the kitchen had to offer was soft shell crab followed by a dim sum platter which included scallops, lobster and king crab.  I was well out of my normal eating zone and have never had any of these but I love trying new things so got stuck in!

Once I got past the idea of eating an actual crab claw I really enjoyed the crispy outside and light flavour.  I really enjoyed the crispy bits on the side but have yet to find out what it was but *think* it was egg yolk after doing a little research!


Hakkasan - Once I got past the idea of eating an actual crab claw I really enjoyed the crispy outside and light flavour.  I really enjoyed the crispy bits on the side but have yet to find out what it was but *think* it was egg yolk after doing a little research!


The dim sum was beautiful to look at - scallop, lobster and king crab.  I started with the scallop (in the foreground) because can you believe it, I've never had a scallop before!  The texture was like biting through velvet and the flavour wasn't too strong but after the crab and the scallop I was feeling a little seafood-ed out so left the other diners to tuck in!


Hakkasan- The dim sum was beautiful to look at - scallop, lobster and king crab.  I started with the scallop (in the foreground) because can you believe it, I've never had a scallop before!  The texture was like biting through velvet and the flavour wasn't too strong but after the crab and the scallop I was feeling a little seafood-ed out so left the other diners to tuck in!


Main courses were brought out and you could actually hear people around the table "ooo-ing" and "ahhhh-ing", especially when the Chilean sea bass came out.  Other dishes included chicken satay, prawns and beef with veggies but I was too busy trying to get my share of the sea bass out of the hands of my colleagues to take pictures of anything else!  It was tender, meaty and full of flavour and went extremely well with the garlic-y asparagus that I just couldn't stop eating...


Hakkasan - Chilean sea bass -tender, meaty and full of flavour and went extremely well with the garlic-y asparagus that I just couldn't stop eating


We were all stuffed to the brim when dessert came out - chocolate orange delice.  Mandarin jelly sandwiched between silky chocolate mousse topped with hazelnuts and fancy swirls and dots and blobs...I did like it but felt it wasn't as impressive as the rest of the meal - looking at the menu I think I might have liked the Jivara bomb more.


Hakkasan - Mandarin jelly sandwiched between silky chocolate mousse topped with hazelnuts and fancy swirls and dots and blobs


We left the restaurant feeling full of Christmas cheer, full of food and in need of a nap!  I really enjoyed going to a restaurant that I probably wouldn't have picked to go to myself.  Would I go again?  Possibly - I think it's the type of place you would go to for a special occasion and I would only go back if I was guaranteed the sea bass!


Cartizze Bar
4 Lancashire Court,
London 
W1S 1EY


Hakkasan
17 Bruton St,
London
W1J 6QB
020 7907 1888

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