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A First Look Inside London’s Most Glamorous New Restaurant

Serge et le Phoque at the Mandrake Hotel in Fitzrovia

Serge et le Phoque’s ‘Ceviche’
Laura James

Fashion Week season was an appropriate time for Serge et le Phoque — the new restaurant in the Mandrake Hotel — to open: a cool, alluring, modern collection of low-lit and shiny new spaces that could replace Berners Tavern at the London Edition, Chiltern Firehouse or Sexy Fish, drawing the it crowd; the place to be seen.

But here there is substance as well as style. Charles Pelletier is a maître d' with verve and the restaurant menu remains at the unpredictable creative discretion of executive chef, floating host and flaneur Fred Peneau; its character nothing if not inspired by his French roots and recent experiences in the Far East. Modern, inventive and lively starters sit side-by-side with bistro classics, some of which are translated to accommodate the vernacular popularised by trendy European neo-bistros, too. Peneau was, after all, one of the founders of Le Chateaubriand in Paris, one of the originators of that standard.

Here’s a first look at the dining room:

Dishes, which will change regularly, include a bright prawn ceviche with passionfruit; moules mariniere with sherry; octopus, potato and tandoori spices; pork with corn, bisque and red prawns; or turbot, peach, mozzarella and jus de viande. Sharing platters include grilled Breton lobster or a whole cote de boeuf, served ingeniously with hot, pickled guindilla peppers, frites and the option of béarnaise or gravy. It is a style of cooking — Maybe Modern European — that resists real categorisation. Its promise to be one of this season’s hottest new openings is so far being kept.

And here’s a first look at the bars:

Inside the vast, brand new kitchen:

Fred Peneau, right

And the ground floor terrace:

Serge et le Phoque

, , England W1T 1PG 020 3146 8880 Visit Website

The Mandrake Hotel

20-21 Newman Street, , England W1T 1PG 020 3146 7770 Visit Website

Chiltern Firehouse

1 Chiltern Street, , England W1U 7PA 020 7073 7676 Visit Website

Sexy Fish

Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, London, W1J 6BR Visit Website