A prime central London location, elegant dining space and the hustle and bustle of London between only you and a piece of glass. Papillon is a brand new all-day dining restaurant located inside one of London’s most luxurious hotels, Hotel Café Royal and it really is the perfect example of what a casual all-day restaurant with a little added luxury on the side should be. It even looks good on the outside and it’s soon-to-come patisserie window will no doubt be luring punters in – me included.
Papillon officially opened its door in mid-June earlier this year, converting from a simple cafe to something more substantial. Now dressed with white tablecloths, wine glasses and some rather handsome salt & pepper pots the place feels much more cosy. Fitting with the chic design of the Papillon brand, we ordered a glass of Laurent-Perrier Champagne to settle us in and our rather fabulous waiter even made pouring it feel refined. Nothing is rushed here, instead it’s incredibly relaxing and you’re made to feel at home from the moment you sit down.
We discovered the best way to start an evening here was with one of the sharing platters. All of them pair perfectly with a second glass of Champagne and wash down nicely with one of the restaurants natural wine selections. With the last of the evening sun still shining through, we decided on the London smoke house fish platter. A truly marvellous selection and all incredibly fresh. Smoked salmon, sardines, mackerel and some lovely horseradish cream which packed just the right punch.
Not particularly complex as a dish, but a solid enough offering was the selection of crepes and best of the bunch was the Parma ham with melted Comte cheese. Topped with a little fresh rocket the dish could have included a second, more gooey cheese – but otherwise it did the job of satisfying my hunger.
Arguably the biggest selling point of Papillon is for its cakes and pastries made by the uber talented head pastry chef, Sarah Barber. I’ve followed this immensely successful chef throughout her journey in London and the every year her creations simply get better. They always look absolutely stunning, but never is flavour or satisfaction compromised. Testament to that was this “Summer Garden” dessert. A pistachio parfait covered in light and fluffy meringue, raspberry jelly and pistachio soil. It tasted like utter heaven and felt as if it belonged in a Michelin starred kitchen.
A special for Wimbledon was this take on strawberries and cream pictured above. A light and fluffy sponge with punchy lemon running through it and vanilla cream topping. The whole thing was then topped off with a chocolate coated lolly which inside revealed a delicate strawberry mousse. An utterly fantastic dessert and visually it looked so intriguing.
Another real stunner was Sarah’s take on the classic strawberry cheesecake. From the selection of petit gateaux’s this was my favourite and every element was exactly what I wanted from it, and more. The biscuit base had the right flavour and texture and the inside revealed a thick vanilla mousse with the strawberry coating concealing it all.
If we hadn’t eaten our weight in desserts already, we made sure we did and finished up on a small lemon meringue pie. Rich, creamy, zesty – another lovely modern take on this much-loved classic.
I really enjoyed my evening at Papillon and both me and my partner realised after that we don’t enjoy this type of dining nearly enough as we should do. Watching the world go by on the ground level of London, over a light convivial meal, too many cakes and some Champagne to wash it all down. Not to mention the talented Sarah Barber turning this establishment into somewhere people seek just to eat her incredible selection of patisseries. There’s new things about to be introduced here in the coming months and so for that reason Papillon – we’ll see you soon!
NB: My meal was complimentary. All views are as always, my own. My views are not influenced by anyone other than my own palate and slightly poor eyesight.