The Greenhouse: More stars on the horizon?

Esteemed London eatery The Greenhouse has retained two Michelin stars since 2004 – no mean feat. It now has a new chef, and with this, the ambition to add a third star to its collection. Based on a recent weeknight visit, it may well get there before not too long. I first dined The Greenhouse some six years ago and have seen it in a variety of iterations over the ensuing period. Sure, some things are still the same – the sense of zen-like calm as visitors arrive via a beautifully landscaped garden, the spacious and light dining area and the highly professional attitude of the staff – but what felt noticeably different on this occasion was the buzz. In other words, the place was full and the atmosphere lively (yet refined), with diners comprising a welcome blend of both business people and pleasure seekers. All were presumably enticed by the chance to sample the culinary wizardry of the new chef (Alex Dilling, most recently of Hélène Darroze at The Connaught). The principles being pursued by The Greenhouse relate to taking the very best ingredients, combining them with a sense of innovative flourish and then delivering the compositions with beautiful presentation. This approach was consistent throughout, from amuse-bouches through to petit fours. A super-soft yet deeply flavoursome smoked sturgeon mousse with crab and dill set the tone at the meal’s beginning. More culinary pleasure was to come, with the likes of turbot combined with boudin noir and girolle, or a truffled egg concoction being almost breath-taking in their originality, texture and taste. My vegetarian dining comrade was also highly impressed with her options, taking away the distinct impression that the dishes prepared for her were no after-thought, but rather other examples of the kitchen’s innate talent. Throughout, the wine pairings (drawn from a list of over 3,500 bottles) showed a wonderful sense of inventiveness, their backstories narrated to us with a sense of panache and charisma. If one were to quibble, then there were occasional culinary low points, such as a somewhat bland wagyu beef offering. Meanwhile, impatient diners may be troubled by the relatively long waits between courses. Overall, these are small issues, and easily correctible. The Greenhouse exemplifies fine dining at its best – although be prepared to fork-out.