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Star Quality: Sofian Msetfi Shines at Ormer Mayfair

Restaurant of the Week: Msetfi’s inventive tasting menu packs a real punch.

By Irenie Forshaw

Ormer Mayfair is tucked away in the basement of Flemings – one of London’s oldest family-owned hotels. It is, however, anything but discreet. As we descend the stairs, two smartly dressed waiters fling open the doors in perfect unison, welcoming us warmly to chef Sofian Msetfi’s restaurant.

An intimate oak-paneled dining room beckons invitingly; starched white tablecloths hint at what is to come. Msetfi means business: there will be no à la carte menus tonight. When he took over the eatery back in 2021, Msetfi revamped the restaurant’s culinary offering transforming it into a ‘tasting menu only’ concept.

The gamble paid off. A miniature Michelin Man figurine is proudly displayed on a shelf by the door; Msetfi’s restaurant scooped four AA Rosettes within a year and was bestowed its first coveted star in the 2024 Great Britain & Ireland Guide. His philosophy is simple: take the finest seasonal produce from around the British Isles and present it impeccably across a series of inventive, elegant dishes.

Add to the mix attentive waiting staff, a stellar sommelier and glamorous art deco interiors, and it becomes clear why this tiny, 30-cover restaurant is taking London’s fine dining scene by storm.

[See also: Bebe Bob: London’s Poshest Chicken Joint]

Chef

sofian msetfi
Sofian Msetfi / ©Ormer Mayer

Msetfi has the type of culinary résumé most chefs can only dream of. Born in Luton to Moroccan and Irish parents, he grew up in Hertfordshire before moving to Preston. The ambitious young chef cut his teeth at some of Britain’s most prestigious kitchens, working alongside Tom Kerridge at The Hand and Flowers in Marlow (the only pub in the UK with two Michelin stars), and Daniel Clifford and Mark Abbott at Midsummer House in Cambridge.

In 2018, he took over as head chef at the Oak Room at Adare Manor in County Limerick, Ireland, overseeing the kitchen when the restaurant scooped its first Michelin star. He moved to London a couple of years later for his debut solo venture at Ormer Mayfair, taking charge of the dramatic revamp.

At just 32 years old, Msetfi has cemented his reputation with creative dishes that blend classic cooking techniques with original flavor combinations. Above all, ingredients – of which he uses only the very best – are treated with the utmost respect.  

[See also: Luke Selby on His Homecoming to Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons]

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Menu

lamb dish at ormer mayfair
The milk-fed Pyrenees lamb / ©Ormer Mayfair

While there’s no à la carte option at Ormer Mayfair, that doesn’t mean diners are short on choice. Msetfi has crafted a seven-course tasting menu with vegetarian and pescatarian variations, alongside a five-course tasting menu available from Tuesday – Friday that costs just £79 (a rarity in this well-heeled part of London). Many of the vegetables are grown in the kitchen garden at Flemings’ sister hotel in Essex.

We kicked things off with an assortment of canapes; the star of the show was the miniature crumpet topped with a generous mound of caviar and dusted with flakes of gold leaf. From here, we dived into Msetfi’s unique take on a Waldorf salad: candied walnuts, Muscat grapes and Roquefort cheese doused in a rich celery consommé and served in a porcelain egg cup.

Next up was one of Msetfi’s signature dishes that has remained on the menu since his arrival at Ormer Mayfair: an intensely meaty slice of warm Iberico ham jelly with parmesan, Bramley apple and nasturtium. This was wasted on me; I’m yet to be convinced jelly should be served anywhere other than a trifle.

cured cornish mackerel at ormer mayfair
Cured Cornish mackerel with kombu and spiced nage / ©Ormer Mayfair

The real highlights came in the form of the cured Cornish mackerel drenched in a fragrant spiced nage with kombu; and milk-fed Pyrenees lamb served with seared lettuce, cucumber and lime (the little pot of lamb sausage it came with was seriously addictive).

Be sure to save space for dessert; the intensely chocolatey Tuma yellow mille-feuille with Tahitian vanilla ice cream was a knockout dish, as was the decadent chocolate mousse and crémeux. Each dish is expertly paired with wines chosen by Ormer’s charming and knowledgeable sommelier, Piotr Sikorski, who was on hand to share anecdotes about the story behind each glass.

Interiors

Ormer Mayfair interiors
The restaurant has an opulent art deco feel / ©Ormer Mayfair

A perfect date night spot, Ormer Mayfair is intimate and cozy. Situated in the basement beneath the hotel, it feels as if you’ve stumbled on one of London’s best-kept secrets – that just happens to have a Michelin star.

The black-and-white geometric patterned carpets, oak paneled walls and emerald-hued velvet banquettes give the restaurant an opulent art deco feel. For extra privacy, request a table in the secluded alcove.

flemings-mayfair.co.uk

[See also: Mark Donald on Whisky, Foraging and Tattie Scones]

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