With summer upon us few Londoners would consider Oxford Street a desirable place to visit, with the tourist multitudes crowding every surface.
But just a few streets north of Marble Arch, in the sophisticated suburb of Marylebone, sanctuary is on offer to the knowing few.
Nestled at the rear of the five-star boutique The Arch London, itself a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Hunter 468 is a small, stylish restaurant catering to those looking to escape the multitudes.
Named after the 1950s dialling code for Marylebone, the location has been designed with an air of nostalgic London glamour fused with contemporary flourishes.
Featuring gleaming leather booths, blown glass chandeliers and statement artwork, plus an adjoining chic Salon de Champagne bar, its few dozen tables offer a quiet place to enjoy the fine food created by head chef Gary Durrant.
Visiting in early August, the summer menu features a series of dishes designed to tantalise taste buds, focusing on contemporary British cuisine, with high-quality cuts of meat featuring prominently.
Taking our seats, the kitchen is delightfully open plan and airy, allowing us to watch the skilled chefs at work among the gleaming selection of copper pots and pans suspended from the ceiling.
Light streams through the large windows, treating guests to a charming view of the neighbourhood mews, and come the evening, the softly lit restaurant is an intimate and romantic setting for dinner and drinks.
For starters I selected soused mackerel, pickled vegetables, horseradish cream, while my guest went for the chicken, pistachio, apricot, baby gem and avocado salad.
The first was light, fresh and perfectly embellished by the selection of horseradish as an accompaniment, mixing two strong flavours together with wonderful results.
At the same time, the chicken was full-bodied and tender, but still light enough to devour on one of the hottest days of the year so far, with the apricots a particularly welcome touch.
Hunter 486 is also keen to showcase the use of their stone oven.
As it operates at a very high heat, meat and fish are produced with astonishingly succulent results, with dishes on offer including fillet of cod, braised peas, spring onions, air dried and mint; and black leg chicken, peas, girolles, smoked bacon and thyme.
The pick among them, however, is the rack of lamb, crushed potatoes, baby vegetables, and herb broth.
Served as rare as the chef dares, it bristles with flavour, while also dripping with blood.
Also welcome was the flat iron steak, cut from the shoulder of the cow, but as juicy and moist as you like. Served with huge hand cut chips and the traditional pepper-corn sauce, it was a hearty delight.
For dessert, strawberry jelly with elderflower ice cream and cut flowers, is a fresh and light way to finish a meal.
Try the wine…
To toast the arrival of summer, Hunter 486 has also been splashing out on new equipment, recently investing in a Coravin Model Two Elite.
This fancy piece of kit offers wine enthusiasts an opportunity to sample glasses without committing to the whole bottle.
The process sees a thin, hollow needle pass through the cork to access the wine.
The bottle is then pressurised with argon, pushing the wine through the needle so that it flows into the glass without letting any oxygen into the bottle.
Once the needle is removed, the cork naturally reseals itself, and the remaining wine continues to evolve naturally.
In short, this means guests can now try a menu of 23 red, white and rose wines, as well as champagnes, by the glass.
With an enticing range of cuisine to suit all tastes, Hunter 486 is the perfect destination for a unique experience showcasing laid-back luxury dining.
Find out more on the official website.