Josiah Mortimer: Jeru’s uneven Mayfair menu

Josiah Mortimer: Jeru’s uneven Mayfair menu

I don’t often hang out in Mayfair. Who does, except sheikhs for holiday shopping or film directors crashing at the Ritz? So perhaps I set my expectations too high. Even so, the Jeru restaurant left me confused.

It’s fancy and, a stone’s throw from Green Park station, central, too. Fight past the mopeds on the busy side street and enter through a sliding door into a kind of louche forest. Think greenery and integrated wine buckets next to the seats – a practical touch, setting the stage for casualised luxury. 

For some time, I had no idea of the price of what my dining companion and I were eating.  Jeru’s signature mains include “French Farm Milk-Fed Lamb Shoulder” for 85, or the Charcoal butterflied Sea Bass for 38. You always know it’s expensive when they don’t include the pound sign. What currency are we talking here? Thai Baht or sterling? More frighteningly, their “Chocolate Aged Tomahawk Steak” didn’t have a price listed at all, just the letters “MP” next to it, which possibly means “speak to your parliamentary representative”.

Yes, the patrons are a wealthy bunch. But we were there to get a taste of the high life, watching the chefs through the open kitchen and eavesdropping on the heirs to Mayfair.

Things began on a high note. A serving of fried potato bread with black chickpea hummus. The fresh mushroom topping on the latter, paired with truffle honey drizzled on the bread, made for a pretty sumptuous, rich combination. The miso butter was a highlight. We caned through it quite happily. 

Out came the vegetarian’s nightmare: slow-cooked chicken and foie gras tacos. The taco shells were buttery and flaky, while pickles cut through the richness of the meat. A sprinkle of herbs added a fresh, citrus flavour. It was, my meat-eating companion told me, as delicious as you’d hope. 

The octopus, though, was not done justice. That animal deserved better than its unseasoned sauce. Nestled in what was essentially tomato juice, it lacked zest. And the halloumi donuts, while tasty, were more batter than halloumi. The result was a little heavy. The sweetness needed cutting through. I wolfed them down, though, because how often do you eat a halloumi donut?

If my critique of the donuts is nitpicking, in the case of the mains it is fundamental. For a start, the set menu does not have a vegetarian option. Jeru was happy to make its roasted aubergine mezze dish into a main, but £24 (sorry, 24) for half a vegetable will trigger even the purest stoic’s nerves. 

My companion was served a charcoal “brick-pressed” chicken. Perhaps they pressed too hard – it was rubbery and bland. It came with an aubergine sauce, which set alongside my roasted aubergine, amounted to too much collusion for a sharing menu.

And the aubergine itself was both undercooked and unpredictably seasoned. One bite hit me with rock salt, the next was rather soggy. If it had a redeeming feature, it was the pine nuts and pulses which salvaged the dish by the skin of its teeth. But considering the high price point, you would expect a bit more finesse. 

Who is this restaurant for? There were high points with the bread, hummus, and the baklava desert – both tied together by the restaurant’s fondness for honey – but the inconsistency of the meal had me wondering. Do chefs sometimes give up a little on main courses? Perhaps they rely too much on the “peak end rule” – give them a banger of a dessert and they’ll go home happy. 

Jeru has some way to go before it can meet the expectations set by its chic Mayfair setting. Perhaps the millionaires will put up with the lazy mains because of the super-central location and proximity to the plush hotels. Londoners though? Don’t raid your savings for it. 

Josiah Mortimer is chief reporter for Byline Times and writes occasional food and drink reviews for On London on the side. Follow him on X/TwitterIf you value On London‘s output, become a supporter or a paid subscriber to editor and publisher Dave Hill’s Substack. Thanks.

Categories: Culture

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