Sanderson (never “the”) is London’s original cool hotel, unless you have a thing for The Hempel. And for the duration of the summer there’s an Allan Pickett residency – which is nicer than a ‘pop-up’ – set among the hotel’s garden serving classic-contemporary in the English style, after which Allan opens his flagship restaurant, Piquet, just over the road.
Simon Gage: I don’t care what anyone says, I still find Sanderson sexy and glamorous and I think it’s passed the test of time. But I don’t like the bathroom products. Some Sea Kelp nonsense.
Stephen Unwin: Don’t say Molton Brown. No one has Molton Brown anymore.
Simon: I want Acqua di Parma.
Stephen: That’s still a bit recherché.
Karen Krizanovich: I think that’s a classic scent – and I love the look of this place. I remember when I was cheating on one of my boyfriends and I stayed at the Schrager hotel, the one over where there used to be a cinema.
SU: St. Martins Lane?
KK: And it was so nice! And I have the same sort of cheating feeling when I’m here.
SU: How often can you walk into a hotel and know immediately who it is? Kit Kemp. The other one is the W. I think the big W in the door gives it away.
SG: And I love this menu everyone.
KK: I just passed my British citizenship test yesterday so I’d like to have a glass of champagne, and the cocktails. I don’t want to be piggy but it was hard work.
SG: There are three things in starters that I can have as a vegetarian and two things in mains. That’s good.
KK: You’re right. Vegetarians always get goat’s cheese in a tart or a tartlet or a crust.
SG: There’s still goat I’m afraid but it’s not the only thing. There is onion tart, which is one of my favourite things in the world.
KK: I like this view into the garden because you can see if there’s someone hot you can bother when you get drunk.
SG: And it’s one of the few listed gardens. Or the first listed garden. Or something about listed gardens. It’s by a famous designer. Philip Hicks. That’s the sort of thing you know when you have landscape architects for friends.
KK: And without trying to be trendy this menu is actually really trendy. Like there are a lot of pickled things. And pressed watermelon. How wonderful is that! I think we shouldn’t write about this so we can keep it to ourselves.
These cocktails are amazing, and I normally hate cocktails. It makes people say things like, “I’m so Samantha”
SU: These cocktails are amazing, and I normally hate cocktails. It makes people say things like, “I’m so Samantha”. And I like this layout because you can be intimate or you can meet people. If they’re hot, you can talk to them. If they’re not, you can ignore them.
KK: And these are Waterford crystal highball glasses.
SG: Does that mean you’re going to steal them?
KK: How dare you remember that evening! You know I can’t help myself when I see Waterford… and, sadly, I broke two on the way home.
SU: The things that have fallen out of my trousers after a night out, honestly.
SG: And I do love good bread in restaurants.
KK: I love good restaurants.
SG: I love eating good bread in good restaurants. Shall we have this Pinot Noir?
KK: I think you’ve made a compelling case.
SU: What does heritage mean when it comes to beetroot?
KK: It means it’s an old type they’ve used but it also means they were all open pollinated, non-hybrid, non-GMO, untreated natural heirloom seed. It usually looks and tastes more interesting. May I try? Oh my god, why didn’t I order that. I hate myself.
SU: Try mine and try the watermelon.
KK: That is inspired. Who is this man cooking our dinner? I’d like to thank him.
SG: Allan Pickett.
SU: This terrine has got raisins in it, which usually freaks me out, but this is incredible.
KK: It’s like someone might have tasted it before they put it on our plates.
SG: The reason you don’t like raisins is that they remind you of Renee Zellweger’s eyes.
KK: Stephen, you eat the crackling because I don’t eat crackling. And I was so not in the mood for pork, now I’m in the mood for pork. Noun.
SU: And it’s not even pulled. Noun.
SG: You know, what’s nice about this is that it’s just nice food. This is quite a standard idea, but it’s so nicely done.
KK: As a friend of mine who used to write for Zagat says, any restaurant can do starters. It stands or falls on mains. And why do people think journalists can judge food? I think it’s because we’re honest.
SG: We have mouths. More money goes on a movie than goes on a restaurant and if you can close that in a weekend…
KK: I think you’ll need to throw up to make more room because this oxtail is fantastic. I don’t know what this green stuff is but it looks like moss. Oxtail inside of an onion skin! Really lovely. I think your onion tart is very creamy. Stephen, can I taste your guinea fowl?
SU: Oh OK.
KK: And what are those green things on your plate.
SU: That is called asparagus.
SG: Maybe you don’t have asparagus in America.
KK: We’re not allowed to because of the church.
SU: I’m so happy with this. And it’s good for skinny days, and what fat there is is good fat. And the Daily Mail will be happy because we’ve had some grains.
You probably shouldn’t put that in because he was probably married at the time
SG: If someone forced me at the end of a sharp knife to say something critical I would say that the pastry on this onion tart is a little sweet. It’s almost like a dessert. But that’s probably because I still have some taste buds left through not abusing them like you, Stephen.
SU: That’s 30 years of Monster Munch for you.
KK: What is Monster Munch?
SG: Cheetos for northerners.
KK: Well I think I’ve tried pretty much everything and it’s all wonderful, but my favourite is the guinea fowl. Usually it’s just like a friendlier grouse but that is something else.
SG: These carrots are like Tudor carrots. They used to be purple but when William of Orange became king, people started eating orange ones. It was a thing, you know.
KK: Is that true?
SG: Apparently. We could get someone very menial in the office to check it.
SU: Are you seriously going to suck on that bone, Karen?
SG: They can’t take credit for the bone marrow, you know that.
KK: I feel like I’ve got a Dyson jaw,
SG: There are so many films from Alfie onwards where women are really turned on by men cooking, aren’t there? What is that?
KK: It wasn’t only Alfie, it was The Ipcress File and then he kills someone but not with his cooking.
SU: Dick Van Dyke was really into sweeping chimneys.
SG: That was his job though
KK: [to waiter] Can we have the lemon thing, the pistachio thing and the chocolate thing. But we’d also like to just try the mint sherbet. But we don’t want you to think badly of us. I think men cooking is sexy and at least you’re going to get something.
SU: Is there an actual cook who is sexy?
KK: You know I slept with XXX. You probably shouldn’t put that in because he was probably married at the time. Maybe we should call this Party o’three on-off-on-off-on-off the Record. That fountain over there reminds me of myself at the time.
SU: That’s why they have very beautiful rooms here with very big beds.
KK: And we’re so much prettier than the other reviewers here.
KK: I love the look, the ease and the quality of this place – completely worth a trip. And it fits this place. Not too trendy, not too traditional. Innovative without being stupid. The chef seems a good bloke.
SG: Everything is in perfect balance, which is tricky in London where every food bore wants the latest atrocity. The place is intimate yet fun and the food is imaginative yet realistic. As for the staff, if they ever need a sofa to sleep on for the night…
SU: I could do all of this again. I don’t feel like my skin or my belly or any other body part is going to explode. I’ve not been this universally impressed by every single thing for a long time.
Allan Pickett, Sanderson London
50 Berners Street, London W1T 3NG
+44 207 300 1400; morganshotelgroup.com