Opened in September 2009 at The Lanesborough, Apsleys by Heinz Beck is one of London’s most breathtaking Michelin-Starred restaurants. We caught up with Heinz Beck to find out the history behind Apsley’s and what diners can expect from his delightful Mediterranean-inspired menu.
Apsleys is the first restaurant outside Italy created by Heinz Beck, holder of three Michelin Stars at La Pergola in Rome. Having been approached by The Lanesborough in 2009, Mr. Beck soon earned the restaurant its own Michelin Star, when in February 2010 it became the fastest London establishment to be bestowed with the award – a title it has held ever since.
Beautiful spaces, beautiful food
Nestled inside The Lanesborough, Apsley’s stunning Venetian-style dining room, with its glass roof and plush upholstery, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful spaces for dining in London. Overseen by Mr. Beck and his hand-picked brigade of chefs, the majority of whom are Italian and have worked under Heinz for many years, the menu is focused on lighter Mediterranean-inspired dishes that are as healthy as they are approachable as they are exciting.
Previously The Conservatory, The Lanesborough decided that they wanted a restaurant with more contemporary style, which is where Heinz came into the picture, as he begins by explaining. “Having decided on a more modern style, the hotel enlisted designed Adam Tihany to transform their grand dining room, resulting in a handsome, art deco interior featuring incredible chandeliers. After two years of working on the new transformation they wanted a new chef who was more internationally well-known with a higher regard, this is when they contacted me and I joined in 2009.
“When I first visited to look around the restaurant I immediately liked the place especially the service the hotel offered which is of an extremely high standard,” he recalls. “The Lanesborough is mentally similar to me – I felt very comfortable with the people and the job that was being offered to me. From the beginning, my strategy has always been high quality and high standards of food preparation. Essentially, what I have created at Apsleys is good value for money alongside quality dishes with exceptional service.
“We offer very light and healthy cooking with Mediterranean flavours,” Heinz asserts. “For me, this is a vital point – we are what we eat. I am always thinking about giving my best to the guests, wanting to offer high quality food, so that diners can enjoy the best experience possible”.
Depth of flavour
Signature dishes at Apsleys include the magnificent Carbonara Fagotelli of divine pasta parcels, while at lunchtime the Menu del Giorno is always a popular choice. On our recent visit, we enjoyed the exquisitely prepared Tomato Consomme with Vegetable Cappelletti (£18.50) to start, followed by Halibut Fillet with Seasonal Vegetables and Berries (£29.00). Our guest enjoyed a mouth-watering Parmesan Risotto with Vegetable in Vinaigrette and Ginger Marinated Langoustine (£21.00) followed by ‘Segovia’ Suckling Pig (£32.00).
Dessert was a similar success and after the delights of our main courses, we opted to share the Milk choice (Il latte), which arrived in spectacular and triumphant fashion on five (yes, five!) plates. Highlights included the Milk and Coconut Parfait and Milk Ice Cream with Amadei Chocolate, which, at £12.50, represents something of a steal.
We were also enthralled by the depth of the wine list and the sommelier’s pairings were carefully chosen and complemented the food superbly. For those looking to push the boat out, Apsleys offers some of the rarest vintages in the world yet, refreshingly, has an excellent ‘by the glass’ list for those on tighter budgets, as Heinz continues by telling us about his commitment to providing his diners with the highest quality food.
“We always strive to bring the highest quality of food to our guests. The guests are the driving point and we do everything we can to ensure they have the best experience of Apsleys as possible. The restaurant is always open and while some say this is a limitation, I certainly do not see it this way,” he affirms. “Instead I feel this is a strength as guests can enjoy our food and hospitality at any time of the day. My kitchen team and I take care of lunch and dinner, whilst The Lanesborough’s team of pastry chefs run the breakfast and afternoon tea service”.
Keeping it fresh
As a restaurant inspired by the seasons, diners at Apsleys can always expect to find something new and unique on the menu – something Heinz is particularly passionate about. “I spend a lot of time in Apsleys when I’m in London and every time I’m here there’s always a change to the menu with new dishes added. By ensuring these regular menu changes, returning customers will always have the chance to try something new.
“For me, creating new dishes is about being inspired,” Heinz explains. “For this to happen you have to be open to being inspired. You can be looking at paintings, architecture or even at the market and you can be inspired; you just need to be open. As soon as you have an inspiration you have to write it down immediately before you forget. From this point, the inspiration has to be developed – this can be a long process and requires patience.
“Dishes have to be developed by cooking and tasting. Once completed, you have to ensure they will be accepted in the restaurant as well as being up to the high standards our guests are used to,” he notes. “I am developing and working on new dishes every day. This does not mean I create a new dish everyday but rather that it is a long process to get a perfect, finished product for the restaurant.
“In this respect, the Fish Crudo is extremely popular, so too the Lobster Salad with Asparagus, Artichokes and Strawberries, and Deep-fried Prawns with Couscous. The Carbonara Fagotelli is one of my signature dishes and it was a favourite of Michelle Obama’s when she dined with me here,” he affirms.
Savour every mouthful
Having recently recruited his Senior Sous Chef, Heros de Agostinis, to Apsleys from his three star Michelin restaurant La Pergola in Rome, Heinz Beck continues to lead the way in Mediterranean-inspired fine dining. When asked about the driving force behind his trailblazing success in Italy and now in London, he was quick to reinforce quality as the major factor. “The quality of the ingredients and service alongside the restaurant’s positioning in the market – these are the factors behind Apsleys’ success,” he confirms.
As for his ultimate experience at Apsleys, Heinz concludes by pointing to the importance of savouring the experience; to take the time to enjoy one’s lunch or dinner. “Our guests are looking for quality and great service and we try to make them feel like their every need is catered to. At Apsleys, we try to give our guests a positive experience and try to make them feel as relaxed as possible. It is essential that the chefs and service staff work well together and have good communication skills; I believe this is a basis of a good restaurant”.
Having recently savoured the culinary delights of Heinz’s lunchtime menu we can indeed echo his philosophy towards savouring the dining experience. And with the world about to descend on London, it surely won’t be long before another star is spotted on Mr. Beck’s impressive resumé.
The Lanesborough Hotel
Hyde Park Corner
T: 0207 333 7254 for reservations.