Whitcomb’s at The Londoner


Nestled inside The Londoner hotel in Leicester Square sits Whitcomb’s, the property’s signature restaurant. But if you came here expecting jellied eels and a rowdy shindig complete with a cockney sing-along, well, you might want to adjust your expectations a tad.

Whitcomb’s Executive Chef, Ioannis Polychronakis, channels the spirit of the Riviera with his culinary creations, offering French Mediterranean cuisine. Though we may not be lounging under the sun on the Côte d’Azur – tonight’s weather feels more Arctic than azure – the restaurant’s light, airy and fashionable decor evoke idyllic, sun-drenched vistas. As I sip from my glass of champagne, it’s as if I’m reliving those blissful moments along the tranquil coast.

Our waiter, sensing our appetite for variety, wisely suggests choosing a selection of sharing plates for our starters. It’s an enticing proposal, especially as our gaze lingers over the prospect of Yellowtail carpaccio, smoked duck and the promise of both steak and tuna tartare. We are assured that all dishes are made using the finest ingredients sourced from local purveyors – our expectations are high, and what follows does not disappoint.

The carpaccio is an absolute standout; with each bite, there’s a burst of tangy citrus notes and a subtle hint of miso salt to awaken the taste buds, complemented by the fine job already accomplished by the champagne. As for the tender slices of duck, the initial smokiness gives way to the vibrant zest of the orange dressing, creating a delightful contrast of flavours.

The steak tartare is presented with a circular parmesan cheese crisp delicately crafted in the pattern of a honeycomb and placed on top of the meat. Next, the tuna tartare makes its entrance, accompanied by a luscious confit of yolk and indulgent Oscietra caviar. Unfortunately, I’m too slow to capture an image of the exquisite dish on my phone – yes, I am that annoying individual – before my guest eagerly plunges in with a fork, causing the egg yolk to disperse. The melt-in-your-mouth dish is a symphony of flavours. If the tuna could sing, it would surely be crooning a melody penned by the legendary Serge Gainsbourg himself!

For our main course, we’ve opted for the Dover sole, prepared in the classic Meunière style, featuring a rich sauce made with browned butter, lemon and parsley. Alongside, we’ve selected the lobster Thermidor; prepared with an elegant ménage à trois of Cognac, Gruyère cheese and delicate shavings of black truffle. Our waiter skilfully fillets the fish, ensuring every bone is removed and carefully spoons over the calorific yet delicious sauce. He nods reassuringly, confirming our choice of two of their finest dishes. And rightly so – these classics are hitting all the right notes. They’re classics for a reason, a testament to the sheer artistry unfolding in the kitchen.

Our delightful menu selections are the perfect accompaniment to the refined ambiance of the restaurant. Elegant artworks, such as Shida Salehi’s captivating metal sculpture, hang majestically from the ceiling, while vast, striking black-and-white portraits of women in their sun hats add an extra layer of allure to the dining experience, enriching the atmosphere with their sophistication.

Speaking of sophistication, let’s not forget about the wine. You’ll be pleased to discover an incredible wine list. We indulged in the Meursault Cuvee Charles Maxime Latour-Giraud, 2020, from the Burgundy region. Its exquisite pairing with the sole and lobster elevated our dining experience to new heights, with citrus and fruit notes beautifully complementing the lemon in the Meunière. Meanwhile, its buttery texture worked perfectly with the succulent sweetness of the lobster meat.

As we approach the finale, our attention turns to desserts. Too weak to resist, we delve into the menu. Remaining faithful to the classics – they’ve served us well so far – we opt for two favourites: chocolate fondant and apple crumble. We’ve stopped counting calories at this point in the evening. The rich fondant is served with poached kumquats and hazelnut praline ice cream, while the delicious crumble is accompanied by warm apple compote and a scoop of Madagascan vanilla ice cream.

It’s a sweet end to what’s been an exquisite evening. I must confess, I had some reservations about Leicester Square, often bustling with tourists. However, the restaurant provides a wonderful solace. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Whitcomb’s. Whether it’s the culinary delights, the impeccable service, or the captivating ambiance that has truly won me over, or maybe it’s simply because I’m a Londoner and have a penchant for fine French cuisine.

Whitcomb’s, 38 Leicester Square, WC2H 7DX. For more information, and for bookings, please visit www.thelondoner.com.