A Savoury Sojourn to the South of France at Riviera, Mayfair
As I descended upon St James’s Street in Mayfair, a destination as iconic as the timeless South of France awaited me – Riviera. An emblem of Emerald Hospitality Group’s unerring taste, the restaurant unfolds itself in a historic locale, formerly housing the legendary Sake no Hana. The opening of Riviera has undeniably set a golden benchmark for London’s gastronomic scene in 2023.
The establishment radiates elegance and charm as if plucked from a postcard picturing the French Riviera’s prized hotspots: Saint-Tropez, Cannes, Nice, and Antibes. The promise of this Mediterranean dream is fulfilled in a triumvirate of spaces: a captivating main dining room, an inviting outdoor terrace, and a ground-floor bar & lounge, each echoing the chic allure of France’s sun-kissed coast.
The menu at Riviera delighted my palate with a remarkable array of sharing-style dishes, offering a gustatory journey through the region. The Grapefruit King Crab salad was a symphony of fresh flavours, while the Lemongrass Scallops showcased the kitchen’s ability to harmonise simple ingredients into a sophisticated dish. In the meat section, the Veal Chop, marinated in a sharp, tangy Dijon mustard, was a triumph of textures and flavours. But the highlight was the Lobster with Yuzu Butter, an exquisite creature of the sea, elegantly crafted and seasoned to perfection.
The grand finale of this French culinary escapade was the dessert. A quintessential Tarte Tatin, painstakingly perfected to the highest standards, and a delicate Pistache Millefeuille – these were indulgences that could only be rivalled by the thrill of a sunset yacht cruise along the Côte d’Azur.
The bar at Riviera is a stage set for liquid masterpieces, made radiant by either sunlight or strategic lighting. Its extensive, meticulously curated list of high-end wines, Champagnes and unique cocktails like the Riviera Elixir – an intoxicating blend of Port Wine, Spicy Rum, and Cinnamon – is awe-inspiring. The Coconut Breeze and Peach Caviar cocktails presented a refreshing take on fruity concoctions, their subtleties and nuances keeping my palate engaged. For those abstaining from alcohol, the Sexy French Popcorn and Paradis de Mangue mocktails were an absolute treat, no less seductive in their flavour profiles.
Beyond food and drink, the ambience of Riviera offers an immersive journey through the glamourous French Riviera. The entrance hall’s grand lampshades cast a golden hue reminiscent of the iconic South of France sunsets. Ascending the escalator, I was transported further into this Gallic reverie, surrounded by artwork from the personal collection of the Zandi brothers.
The open-plan kitchen in the main restaurant, adorned with tiles and counters evocative of a classic French villa, displays fresh seafood to tantalise guests from the moment they enter. Descending to the bathrooms is akin to diving into the sparkling sea of the French Riviera, with blue-toned, hand-painted murals portraying iconic locations of the South of France.
Riviera is not merely a restaurant; it’s a voyage. The perfect blend of fine dining, a luxurious ambience, and sublime cocktails, it offers a piece of the South of France in the heart of London. It is a destination that invites one to linger, to savour, and to return – a dining experience that truly transports you to a sun-kissed Mediterranean dream. Riviera is, quite simply, a magnifique addition to Mayfair’s culinary landscape.
Book here – https://www.riviera-london.co.uk/