Mayfair must be one of the only areas in London whose restaurants, and residents, are seemingly immune to the financial fluctuations of the capital. While the likes of Chelsea and co have bowed to pressure and rustled up a few cheerful, organic salad bars for the sake of ‘diversity’, Mayfair remains steadfastly determined to provide purely decadent dining and Michelin-starred spots.
As a result, despite being home to some renowned restaurants such as Coya and Gymkhana, Mayfair isn’t an area anyone is tripping over themselves to recommend unless you’re discussing dinner options with an oligarch – and they’re paying. Dining in the area usually conjures up images of faded 90s supermodels, portly bankers and the dusty American Psycho bathrooms at Nobu rather than impressive culinary feats.
However, newcomer Sackville’s has recently arrived to inject something a little different into the monotonous Mayfair scene, with what can only be described as a ‘concept restaurant’ specialising in truffles and steak. Now unless you’re on an Umbrian farm, an excess of truffles often signals a restaurant with more money than sense, but with our curiosity piqued we made our way into the depths of W1 to give it a try.
A short stroll from Fortnum and Masons and the Royal Academy, Sackville’s is in true Mayfair territory. With a subtle, glass-fronted exterior it can be easy to miss, so just eavesdrop on nearby conversations if you’re having trouble finding it – as we approached we overheard a group of well-heeled young Mayfairians loudly discussing the shocking news that their friends grandfather had been a builder, and immediately knew we were in the right spot.
As for the interior, Sackville’s describes itself as a ‘grill and bar’, which is sort of like The Dorchester describing itself as a guest house : technically true, but not exactly the impression that comes across. The trappings of a grill are there – brass fittings, dark wood – but overall the decor is reassuringly expensive with mustard-yellow velveteen banquettes and dim lighting.
The menu at Sackville’s is relatively concise, and as you might expect from a truffle-and-steak restaurant, heavy on the piggy little mushrooms and prime cuts of dead cow. Almost every dish included black Croatian truffles, from salad appetisers to mashed potato, so if you’re not a fan of fancy fungi then please just make a reservation up the road at Momo instead.
Fortunately I do like truffles, although in hints rather than handfuls, and here they are laid on with a trowel. We shared beef carpaccio with truffle oil and beef tartar with foie gras, both of which were incredibly rich but fortunately small in portion. The tartar was pretty perfect, so rare it was almost breathing and incredibly tender, but the foie gras felt unnecessary, and took away from the delicate flavour of the beef. The carpaccio was good, but the truffle oil was so dominant that by the time we’d finished I was almost beginning to regret my choice of main course.
Fortunately, all doubts were soon vanquished when the Sackville’s Burger arrived. The main courses at Sackville’s consist of Wagyu, USDA or Angus steaks every which way, a series of premium burgers, and some token plates (baked pouissin, risotto) that I doubt anyone besides the most lost of vegetarians has ever ordered, having accidentally stumbled in but lacking the courage to leave.
Their namesake burger was a cardiac arrest nestled in a buttered brioche bun – heart of wagyu rib eye, seared foie gras, truffle mayo and foie gras butter in case you hadn’t quite had enough by this point. It was ingredient porn of a level I hadn’t seen since Le Pur in Paris and I loved every second of it. It’s quite possibly the best burger I’ve ever eaten, with Tongue n’ Cheek’s Heartbreaker burger as the other, very different contender. I’m sure if Sackville’s pitched themselves to Street Feast as an ironic street food stall their burgers would almost instantly become the stuff of legend, even with the eye-watering £38 price tag. Therein lies the rub – while probably the best burger I’ve ever eaten, this is also certainly the most expensive. Packing a patty full of luxurious Japanese cow will do that to your overheads.
The sides didn’t quite live up to the delights of the burger, with a rather mediocre, runny truffle mac and cheese, and the truffle dust on the fries was barely detectable – although by this point that was somewhat of a bonus.
Having snagged a mixologist formerly of Pollen Street Social, Sackville’s offers a series of excellent cocktails, both in the restaurant and the intimate downstairs ‘speakeasy-style’ bar. Start the meal with a rhubarb champagne fizz and end with a negroni, and in between have whatever the sommelier recommends from the extremely well-stocked wine list – we left our drinks entirely in his hands and were not disappointed.
As I left Sackville’s, I couldn’t make up my mind whether it was unabashedly embracing the kind of casual decadence that is often considered grotesquely gauche, or shying away from it while still fulfilling the local demand for opulent ingredients. It’s got all the trappings of a blow-out meal, but without the formality which many young Londoners have come to hate.
There’s no low-level classical music, snooty service or excessive cutlery, but vintage wines and wagyu beef are still on the menu. The restaurant feels cool and relaxed, in contrast to the rigid attitudes of most Mayfair establishments, but you could still take your Godfather there before drinks at the Carlton Club. If this is what modern Mayfair looks like, we might start recommending a visit after all.
Where: Sackville’s, 8a Sackville Street, London W1