My backpack was provided with its own stool, my jacket was courteously removed and hung and no less than three people walked me to the bathroom to make sure I got there in one piece. It’s fair to say that things look pretty classy. And that makes sense, as I’m at the swanky Four Seasons Hotel London on Park Lane, sampling an experimental seven-course tasting menu by critically acclaimed chef Carlo Scotto.
Scotto has settled into the kitchen of the stylish Amaranto restaurant at the Four Seasons for April ahead of the launch of his new restaurant, the 36-cover Amethyst, in Mayfair next month. It’s a significant development for the Naples-born chef, who closed his modern European restaurant Marylebone Xier in December 2020, amid the Covid-19 pandemic. “We’re going to wow Amethyst customers,” he assures me.
Over the next few weeks, Scotto will be using his residence at the Four Seasons to test the proverbial waters of his new project. I’m not sure which of the dishes I’m tasting will make it onto Amethyst’s final menu, but this teaser suggests that Nordic and Japanese flavors will figure prominently, alongside its bold and innovative ingredient combinations.
Unfortunately for the hardworking and passionate team, the restaurant was rather empty when I visited on a Wednesday evening. This had to do with the hotel’s capacity being significantly reduced (probably due to Ramadan), coupled with particularly terrible weather that evening. It’s an unfortunate time that the end of the fast coincides with Scotto’s pop-up closing, but there’s so much hype around Amethyst that it might be best for the team to have a month to go. go through trial and error, without being rushed off their feet.
When a dining experience describes itself as “experimental,” it can set off weak alarm bells, but Scotto’s menu has managed to push the envelope without losing sight of what diners actually want to eat. My highlights included a warm and adorably plump sourdough made with potato oil and rosemary served with a smoked butter that I could have happily gobbled down with a teaspoon, and a serving of Alaskan black cod. melting in umami, served in a caramelized miso broth.
A savory parmesan and burrata croquette was another highlight, the fried delight accompanied by a tarragon mayonnaise and charred hay – the latter being a first for me and I imagine many diners who are not either horses (I had to check that I had heard our server). Another stunning dish of salmon marinated in rose water for 30 hours (not a minute wasted!) accompanied by sumptuously creamy foie gras, crowned with tiny Granny Smith apple “blossoms”.
One concern you might have when faced with a tasting menu is that you’ll be too full to enjoy what you’re eating when you reach the final stages of the meal, but the portion sizes here have thankfully been well thought out. I also liked the pace of the experience – we had precisely the time we needed to digest between each course, never getting impatient for the arrival of the next bite.
Our tasting menu was expertly paired by Filippo Carnevale, who was head sommelier at Xier and takes the reins of Amethyst alongside his longtime business partner, Scotto. My catering partner and I appreciated receiving brief explanations from Carnevale at each pour, who contextualized each wine for us, explaining the thought process behind the pairing.
We started with a creamy, almost nutty Ruinart champagne with the best bubbles I’ve ever tasted, before working our way through a series of whites from Napa Valley in California, Rioja in Spain and the Langhe. in northern Italy. Our beef dish was accompanied by a full-bodied, smoky glass of Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon, also from Napa Valley, with its clove notes perfectly complementing the richness of the meat, which had been marinated in over 30 spices. and served with grilled Medjool dates.
The dessert – an “amethyst geode” made with crunchy praline, hazelnut mousse, bittersweet clementine jam and white chocolate – was Instagram-worthy, but thankfully not a case of style over substance. It really resembled the geological formation, aided by the rock-shaped slab of dehydrated chocolate on top (which had a rather odd, crumbly texture). This was accompanied by a deliciously fruity Sicilian dessert wine, which was our seventh drink of the evening and perhaps a little unnecessary, but when at the Four Seasons…
There are only a few weeks left to experience Scotto’s residence, so I would suggest booking immediately. But there’s no need to worry if your April looks shocked, because all of this and more will undoubtedly be available from Amethyst, which is already take reservations.
The seven-course tasting menu at the Four Seasons is £120pp, with the option to add a classic or prestige wine pairing for an additional £135 or £195 respectively. To book see fourseasons.com