What: A high-end, but surprisingly accessible Italian restaurant housed within the stunningly glitzy surroundings of the newly-refurbished Carlton Tower Jumeirah.
Who: Al Mare is overseen by the The Carlton Tower's new executive chef Marco Calenzo, who previously ran the kitchen at modern-Japanese restaurant Zuma. His CV also includes time spent cooking for the Four Seasons Hotels group internationally.
The food: Dishes are designed as light, modern takes on Italian classics, with a selection of more robust main plates also available. Prices across the board are competitive for the location, with many starters and pasta dishes pitched at around the £25 to £30 mark, and no main dish breaching £45. Smaller plates include a range of crudo including tartare di tonno made with 'sustainable' Mediterranean bluefin tuna, topped with oscietra caviar, and served with an orange ponzu sauce (£34); as well a selection of charcuterie. Starters feature vitello tonnoto, thinly sliced veal, bluefin tuna and Pantelleria caper sauce (£22); cod brandade with parsley and candied lemon (£17); and chicken liver parfait with crispy polenta and redcurrant and pear gelée (£18). Pastas can be ordered as a primo or main course, with options including calamari, clams, Mazara red prawn and scallops (£28); and oxtail ravioli with sage and stravecchio balsamic vinegar (£25). Mains, meanwhile, consist of a small range of fish and meat dishes and include veal chop with aged Parmesan cheese, rocket and tomato salad (£42); and fisherman’s seafood stew witih orecchiette & Piana di Navelli saffron (£36).
The drink: Bar patrons and diners alike can choose from a wide selection of Italian aperitifs and digestifs, served table side from an aperitivo trolley, including a list of rare and vintage Amaro; vermouths (Al Mare has its own house blend); grappas; and eau de vie. The bar’s signature cocktail list, created by head mixologist Enrico Gonzato, explores fresh produce, foraged ingredients, and innovative mixology trends. The Al Mare wine list is minimalist, focusing on bins from small Mediterranean producers, as well as more well-known names from Tuscany, Piemont, Burgundy and Bordeaux.
The vibe: 1508 London was appointed to transform the hotel, and has also overseen the design of Al Mare. The restaurant features a large bar and lounge area, featuring dramatic Rosapino marble and warm green and amber tones. The main dining room is comfortable and spacious, and includes a vibrant theatre kitchen. An outdoor terrace area overlooking Cadogan Gardens is also available, complete with a dedicated cigar butler.
And another thing: Jumeirah has spent £100m in total refurbishing The Carlton Tower, which represents the most extensive transformation in the hotel's history (it originally opened in 1961). The redesign includes the creation of a new foyer and reception area, and the building of a new health club and spa. The number of rooms, meanwhile, has been reduced from 216 to 186 to offer larger accommodation, with nearly half now offered as suites.
1 Cadogan Place Ground Floor The Carlton Tower Jumeirah, London SW1X 9PY