A few weeks before The Betterment opens in Grosvenor Square’s The Biltmore Mayfair hotel, I sit down with Jason Atherton at his first solo restaurant, Pollen Street Social, which he opened in 2011. Eight years on, and Atherton has won multiple Michelin stars and opened 17 more restaurants. The Betterment is number 19 on that list.
‘I want The Betterment to be an iconic restaurant,’ says Atherton in a quiet spell before lunch service starts. ‘But we’re not trying to win three Michelin stars.’
Instead, he sees this latest project as his opportunity to do the type of dishes he can’t serve in any of his other restaurants, like his wife’s favourite Filipino fermented shrimp salad, or a Texan succotash with beans and pulled pork. ‘The food’s deadly simple, but made with impeccable ingredients,’ he explains.
The lunch menu in particular is shaped for modern workers who need to be in and out quickly. ‘Working lunches have changed because with Brexit, people are terrified of losing their jobs,’ says Atherton. ‘But as restaurateurs we’re chameleons. At my restaurants I make sure we serve people in 45 minutes. I train my guys to get dishes on the table in just seven minutes.’
The launch of The Betterment is also a kind of victory lap for Atherton – and with the opulent marble, gold and leather interiors, and the staff uniforms designed by Thom Sweeney, it shows. ‘This is one of the most important restaurants I’ve ever opened because it’s back on Grosvenor Square where my career began,’ he explains. It’s where he won his first Michelin star at Maze, the restaurant he launched for Gordon Ramsay in 2005, and his triumphant return serves as a reminder of just how far he’s come since then. His betterment, if you will.
The Betterment, 44 Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, W1K 2HP, thebettermentmayfair.com
Bring The Betterment to your lunchbox
Kale and Chicken Caesar Salad recipe by Jason Atherton
Salad: 1 chicken breast, 250g butter, 2 cloves of garlic, thyme, ½ baby gem lettuce, 4 soft boiled quartered quail’s eggs, parmesan shavings, 4 anchovies roughly chopped, 4 slices of crisped pancetta, handful of chopped kale
Dressing: 2 large egg yolks, 4 anchovy fillets, 1.5 cloves of garlic, 2 tbsp white wine vinegar, 375ml olive oil, 100g grated parmesan
1. Melt the butter with garlic and thyme, season and infuse on a low heat for 30 minutes. Heat to 70 degrees and submerge the chicken breast and slowly poach for 30-40 minutes. Slice thinly.
2. Blend the dressing ingredients except oil and water to a smooth paste. Slowly add in the oil; it will start to look like a mayonnaise. Add water to reach desired consistency. Season.
3. In a large bowl, add in all ingredients and toss in dressing until coated.