London’s Mayfair is filled with hip haunts, so it’s hardly surprising that the recent opening of Rextail, called for its reference to ‘T-Rex’ and ‘oxtail’ has fit right in and become one of them.
Opened by renowned Russian restaurateur Arkady Novikov, the man who brought us the sister Mayfair spot with his namesake (his first food venture outside of Russia), Rextail offers an eclectic international menu of flavours, with a focus on grilled meats, fish and game. The Novikov name has become a byword for high-end dining, with a clientele that includes everyone from Vladimir Putin and Bill Clinton through to Naomi Campbell.
Fashionably tucked within a trendy basement setting on Albermarle Street, we warmly took to what can be described as the ‘garden vintage meets modern living’ décor. You won’t find any formal white tablecloths at this brasserie. Instead, exposed brickwork stretches along both sides of the restaurant’s walls, with green leather booths leaning against them and plush pillar-box red lounge seats facing each table. The square tables are wooden and feature beautiful floral embossed copper tiles at every corner, with green plant pots placed as centrepieces instead of the usual candles or flowers. Pretty vintage floral plates are placed as side plates to complete the table setting.
To begin, a basket of warm grilled slices of sourdough toast drizzled with olive oil arrived with a plate of creamy chicken pate, chutney and cornichons, followed by our starters: perfectly prepared octopus salad with crunchy French beans and diced potatoes, a melt-in-your-mouth ball of gooey Puglian burrata cheese with sweet datterini tomatoes and yellow fin tuna tartare soaked in a soya based koshu dressing.
With such satisfyingly light and fresh starters, we moved on to sample heavier main dishes of prime cuts of steak, which are presented on a wooden board and explained to you beforehand to help make the right choice. We went for the Argentinian fillet however, US Wagyu from Nebraska, Irish black Angus Tipperary 40 day dry aged and Inverary dry aged Scottish Shorthorn (as well as others) all feature on the menu.
We enjoyed our beautifully seared rare cut with sides of fries, green vegetables and green peppercorn sauce. There’s also the option to come out of your comfort zone to try roast goat kid, taste something Asian with the yuzu scented black cod and feast on a hearty stew with the braised oxtail with red peppers.
For dessert, we highly recommend trying the chocolate soufflé with praline ice-cream (enough served for two but we aren’t complaining) and equally taking a look at the desserts table near the front desk, where we noticed a mouth-wateringly mighty Napoleon – the Italian equivalent of French mille-feuille – layers of puff pastry filled with Chantilly cream and dusted with icing sugar.
As well as the dining area, Rextail has a very welcoming, intimate tapas-style bar, where you can head to as a pit stop to enjoy the extensive list of cocktails, with or without some nibbles.