Boxwood Café, Knightsbridge

They call it Boxwood, Boxwood......Boxwood City Limits

Another weekend in London and another opportunity to knock off a “trophy” restaurant – this one from the effing Gordon Ramsay stable.  If you swear by food as much as I do, then you start to appreciate that London is really the place in the UK to do fine dining.  There simply isn’t the demand for it in Manchester, for example.  Not one Michelin star in the city!  Sure, there are plenty of good eateries, but the overall experience is just better in London, and surprisingly, not always that much more expensive.

Sunday menu 8 June 2008

The Boxwood Café, definitely falls into the expensive category, however.  The set Sunday lunch at £28, is even more expensive than The Ivy, although Gordon Ramsay would no doubt argue that he has said a firm Foxtrot Oscar to the old fashioned £2 per head cover charge favoured by that celebrity haunt.

Gordon wasn’t present at the Boxwood on the day we visited which was a shame, although with 93 billion restaurants across the planet now, it must be hard to be seen at them all.

I tried to keep the bill down by ordering the set menu, which gave me an excuse to splash out on wine.  The wine list was expensive and I couldn’t spot any obvious bargains so I chose Château de Pez 2003 at £62 to go with my beef main course.  I found this online at The Drink Shop for £26.19 making the mark-up against retail price 237%, steep, but not eye-watering blasphemy, as I had expected.


The wine tasted of scorched earth with intense damson, blackcurrant and root vegetables.  The tannins were surprisingly soft for such a young St Estèphe and as it aired nice touches of vanilla, warm spice and chocolate emerged.

The food was top notch.  Hamhock terrine and bloody ribeye of beef, preceded by an obligatory, but free of charge, white onion soup – creamy and foamy.  Gordon Ramsay allegedly swears by using fresh ingredients of the season.  The fresh veg was all simply but perfectly done and fresh peas make a refreshing change to frozen.

Inside the box.......wood café

All the cooking is essentially simple but superbly executed from fresh quality produce.  The decor is formal yet relaxed.  The toilets – oh the toilets – had me muttering a congratulatory expletive!  At the bottom of the stairs I stopped to ponder a wine fridge, rather awkwardly located next to the gents, but this was detaining me from viewing the coup de grace.  The interior designer had indulged themselves in laying out the urinals.  In the photo below you can see two urinals.  The reflection in the glass panel is of the one on the right, not a transparent view of the left hand one through the glass.  With the Mona Lisa in mind, I moved my head around and from pretty much any angle the reflection aligned with the urinal behind the glass – how so?  As I mused, the toilet door bounced open and I had to stuff the camera somewhere less embarrassing than if I had been caught flashing in the gents by another punter.

Boxwood Bogs - symmetry rules OK

Meanwhile, back upstairs the cheese had arrived, allegedly English but with one Irish impostor.  Nice stuff, and washed down with a glass of Castelnau de Suduiraut 1er cru 2002 from Sauternes.  Marzipan, quince and pineapple – unusual but super complementary to cheese.

The bill for two was exactly £150 (£168.74 including service).  This is far from cheap but the alcohol represented 55% of the total – believe it or not, more than usual for me!  So I reckon overall that it is cheaper than the Ivy, the food is as good, the ambience less star studded and the better for that, and finally the Boxwood did not hound me out after exactly 1.5 hours.

There is a private room for four at the front of the Boxwood which looks very discreet and impressive.  Next time I go, I’ll try for that, assuming that Ramsay fella likes my review.  Gordon, I loved this place.  Let me have the f****ing room!

Boxwood Café, The Berkeley Hotel, Knightsbridge, London. SW1 7RL.
T: 020 7235 1010  F: 020 7235 1011

3 Responses to “Boxwood Café, Knightsbridge”

  1. Douglas Says:

    Sounds great. I too have started to photograph loos in restaurants (a curious procedure) although some water closets warrant it. I’ve noticed a number of restaurants appear to run the totals of food and alcohol in separate lines at the end of the bill, showing you exactly what hedonism has been aspired to. Quite puritanical? I just went to maze Grill (review to follow). I set out for lunch and arrived back home thirteen hours later(!) – not all at GRH venue, but all involving intoxicating pleasure…

  2. Alastair Bathgate Says:

    I’ll look forward to your review. I suppose it is bad form to announce this in advance, but I am booked into Maze Grill next Sunday.
    Will your review be published before then?

  3. Douglas Says:

    I posted a draft to your inbox…

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