As I walk in, Gary Durrant, Head Chef of Hunter 486 restaurant, is standing in front of the stone oven of his open plan kitchen, tucked away at one end of the small but perfectly formed restaurant. This is clearly an eatery where “tucked away” is an art form, as it is itself tucked away in the boutique Arch London Hotel, which in turn is tucked away in a quiet corner of Great Cumberland Place behind London’s Marble Arch.
Drawn here by the inducement of his new menu celebrating the “best of British” I was intrigued by the role of his stone oven.
“What’s so special about the stone oven then Gary?”
“Moistness in a word.” He replies without missing a beat.
“It retains heat so well, so I can cook food quickly and keep the juices running.”
Good to know then one of our mains is to be the Black leg chicken, cooked in that very oven.
But first I return to our table, (conveniently tucked away by a side window) to enjoy our starters; a delicious ham hock with piccalilli and sourdough toast (£8.50) for me and an equally tasty watercress soup with poached quail eggs (£7.00) for my partner. That said, I was nearly seduced by the dressed Dorset crab, avocado and pink grapefruit (£9.50) while pan fried chicken livers, bacon, pea and mint (£7.50) dangled as another tantalising starter possibility.
Sitting here, I fondly remember reviewing The Arch London a couple of years ago for TripReporter and enjoying the fare at Hunter 486 restaurant back then. To see how the quality and standards have survived is music to my ears, let alone my taste buds as we eagerly await the main events.
My partner’s Black leg chicken arrives first as my request for super crispy chunky fries with my flat iron steak are “taking a little longer than usual”. Call me picky, but I have this obsession with fries, particularly the chunky hand cut variety. They simply have to have crispy outer’s with soft centres, nothing else will do, so waiting for my chips to reach super crispy status is no problem from where I’m sitting.
The Black leg chicken, bubble and squeak and tarragon sauce (£19.00) is a total triumph. Moist most certainly (I sneak a look up at Gary and he gives me a “told you so” look back) and the bubble and squeak, one of the most British of British foods is sitting proudly as a small perfect island amid the tarragon.
With a flourish, an equally juicy flat iron steak arrives (£19.50) accompanied by the aforementioned chunky chips crisped to perfection, a freshly made pepper sauce and a large mushroom cap topped with a herb filled grilled tomato.
This is a perfect demonstration of how fine ingredients cooked without any pretentious fuss are perfectly capable of standing up proudly on their own.
Dessert (£6.50) proves to be contentious. While my partner opts decisively for a lemon posset, I’m torn between rhubarb jelly with Champagne sorbet and chocolate fondant with salted caramel ice cream.
I’m put in place by Restaurant Manager Brigit “take the pomegranate, almond, rose flower water and Mascarpone sorbet, you won’t be disappointed.”
And I wasn’t.
My only cause for concern is the tendency for British restaurants to charge additional supplements for cheese, and at Hunter 486 it is an additional £2 for British cheeses. It’s a practice I’ve never understood, when you can eat in France and not be charged anything, it is simply part of the dining experience.
Hunter 486 restaurant remains for me one of London’s hidden gems (or should I say tucked away gems) in a leafy street just a stone’s throw from Oxford Street; a delightful oasis which continues to deliver excellent British fare at very affordable prices.
One not to be missed if you’re in town.
All images (c) Andy Mossack
Tell me more about Hunter 486 restaurant
The Arch London Hotel
50 Great Cumberland Place, London W1H 7FD
Tel 020 7724 0486