by Hilary Armstrong, The Telegraph, April 26, 2018
Three star chef Heinz Beck is back in town with Beck at Brown’s Hotel.
The dining room at Brown’s Hotel gets summer-ready with a new look and easygoing Italian restaurant from Rome’s finest, Heinz Beck.
Behind the scenes
Heinz Beck of La Pergola at the Rome Cavalieri Waldorf is Rome’s only three star chef. Beck at Brown’s isn’t the German chef’s first bite of the London cherry. He was here from 2009 to 2013 with Apsley’s at the Lanesborough which, though it never quite set pulses racing, did win a star.
In a break from the formality of Apsley’s, Beck’s gone casual for the Mayfair crowd who like their Italians effortlessly glamorous. Sir Rocco’s sister, Olga Polizzi, has swooped in on the fusty oak-panelled grill (recently vacated by Mark Hix) and dusted off the cobwebs.
It’s more wardrobe update than radical overhaul – think Mary Berry in a bomber jacket – but it doesn’t half look chic. It’s like they’ve thrown the doors open and let the air in.
The horticultural theme continues on the plate, in a first course of bluefin tuna, highly seasoned with soy and sea salt, on a pressed pak choi leaf dotted with herbs and white-gold puffs of seaweed.
For dessert, another ‘tree’ effect, this time rendered in chocolate on the gelato plate (don’t miss the almond). Such painterly touches make even otherwise familiar dishes feel original.
Pasta dishes are excellent, particularly fagottelli and, another nod to the Eternal City, spaghetti cacio e pepe with lime-marinated langoustines. I didn’t have fastidious Beck down as the type to goad purists with seafood and dairy in combination, but apparently so.
I like the sweet, slithery raw langoustines; they get along famously with the black pepper but it’s the perfect al dente pasta that holds my attention.
Secondi – we had roast veal with pistachio crust and soy-marinated beef, chicory and wasabi – aren’t quite so stimulating.
There’s only one dish from Apsley’s at the Lanesborough that I recall with any clarity: Beck’s fagottelli alla carbonara. He couldn’t not bring them with him to Brown’s. Indeed, the silken pasta parcels with liquid centres of egg, cream and pecorino – the carbonara of dreams – are as memorable as ever.
To finish, tiramisu affogato is an idea so smart I can’t believe it isn’t everywhere. This one’s a play of contrasts, of bright white aerated mascarpone and dark chocolate tuile, theatrically swirled with espresso. It delivers a good kick of coffee that most tiramisus keeps to themselves.
Ladies who lunch. I never thought I’d say that about Brown’s.