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Dune, 11 Haymarket London SW1

Louise Elgin slipped into a pretty cocktail number and headed for the Haymarket

Dune is a very slick establishment, split into two defined areas. At the front there is a groovy bar with low lighting, muted décor and booth style seating, a Tapas style menu and all manner of drinks (including specially created house cocktails from mixologists Douglas Ankrah and Richard Hargroves). Tables are glass-topped and encased with orchids, with scattered low stools - all creating a mismatch of styles that somehow works. Loud and disco-ish music generates the feel of a nightclub.

At the rear lies the large, formal and spacious restaurant with its collection of exceptional wines in glass cases as well as visually stunning chandeliers comprising of mother of pearl shells, crystal drops and feather boas. There is yet more beautiful lighting in the form of crystal jellyfish drops, but there's a completely different taste in music - opera this time, loud and blaring, but somehow fitting the decadent feel of the room. The menu is contemporary Mediterranean, with a good selection of choices for all palates and appetites. Everything from the cutlery and china to the table settings are of beautiful quality and I was glad I had dressed up for the occasion, as it seemed fitting.

I began with a very good mussel and cod soup. It was rich with wine, cream, garlic and plenty of mussels, probably highly fattening but definitely worth the calories! My guest described her Moroccan Cromesquis - deep fried goat’s cheese and smoked duck breast, as ‘perfect’. It was served with a medley of beans, carrots and herbs, and proved a knockout combination.

To follow, she tried the roasted Andalusian salmon fillet. It was herb-crusted and came beautifully served on roasted plums and oranges. She said the combination of tastes and flavours blended really well, the fish being meaty and aromatic, with a very artistic selection of vegetables. My roast breast of Catalan chicken came served en roulade, each round stuffed with spinach and almonds. It was moist and fragrant, very rich and filling, and the most enormous portion, to which sadly I couldn’t do justice. To drink, we tried a bottle of French Pouilly-Fume, which was fresh and crisp with a flinty edge. The wine list included a comprehensive selection with all budgets covered. Unfortunately, I could only manage a cup of fresh mint tea to finish, which proved a very refreshing end to my meal. I had a good look at the puddings menu and next time I shall save some room for the several tempting things on offer.

Dune is very unique in its atmosphere and would be somewhere to go if you are looking for a bit of bygone age glamour. It is early days and I think, given a little time for things to settle, this newcomer will find its very own niche market.

Louise Elgin. April 2006

A three course meal for two with wine and water is about £80.00

Dune 11 Haymarket London SW1 
(The restaurant can be accessed through the bar, or at the side in Orange Street)
Tel:  020 7839 2424

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