And then there is the ramasse-miettes: I love the scrape of the metal across the tablecloth sweeping away evidence of earlier greed, heralding a new course winging its way across from the kitchens, and reassuring one that the meal isn’t over yet. I love, too, the re-laying of the tablecloth – a delicate procedure, in which the fresh tablecloth, crackling with starch, is laid across the table while the old cloth is simultaneously peeled back without allowing a crude sliver of the denuded table to be seen - comparable in some ways to a very discreet changing of a baby’s nappy.
There is no such pleasure in a flimsy sheet of paper scrunched up after each course to be replaced with another. Fine if I’m going to Wagamama, or a corrugated iron hipster hotspot. Not fine if I’m dining at a refined and traditional Mayfair institution - in this case, Scott’s - and paying commensurate prices .
I imagine the oyster bar, the focal point of the room, might be appropriate for a boring date. The whizzing by of waiters bearing stunned seafood reclining on ice crystal cairns would provide enough distraction to fill any chasms of silence. The menu, like many of Richard Caring’s establishments, is extensive and includes a well-trawled ocean’s section, but it is somewhat less inspired than Le Caprice.
To start, I ordered the hot-smoked salmon: flushed and delicately flaky pieces were nestled in a tangle of pea shoots and broad beans, tied together with a green goddess dressing - a pretty dish, notwithstanding the potency of the tarragon in the dressing. My dining companion enjoyed his chargrilled squid with quinoa, spicy sausage and rocket.
Seared sea bass with lemon and herb butter followed. I am still tormented by this mis-decision. Why when there was miso-blackened salmon did I choose the least interesting thing on the menu? I blame the yuzu cocktail. The fish was fresh and cooked well, but with the bar set high by the exquisite cod with duck broth at Little Social (see review here), my expectations were not met.
The obligatory chips were chunkier relatives of Le Caprice’s, but good nonetheless.
Three hours into the meal I expected what has now become an almost universal occurrence: the arrival of a bill-pushing waiter, willing one to leave. Much to my delight, this did not occur - so Scott’s definitely gets bonus points for service. In terms of gastronomy, Scott’s was unadventurous, good quality, unfussy and well balanced.
Ambience: 7/10 (9.5/10 if there were tablecloths)
Suitable for: Smart dates, celebrations, business lunches, seafood lovers