Any classically-educated school child (or Madeline Miller enthusiast) worth their salt could tell you that the sirens of Greek mythology were dangerous, beguiling creatures who lured sailors to shipwreck with their enchanting music and singing voices. Incidentally, they could also tell you that the phrase ‘worth their salt’ originated with the ancient Romans, who valued salt incredibly highly — but I digress. It is from these mythical creatures that Nathan Outlaw has taken inspiration for his newest restaurant, Siren, perhaps in the hope of seducing the capital’s wealthiest diners to take a seat inside.
The restaurant itself is housed within the iconic Goring Hotel, just a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace in SW1 and a famous favourite of the Queen herself. This is not Outlaw’s first foray into the world-class world of hotel residencies. Last year saw the end of a six-year partnership with The Capital, and his very first job as a chef was with Peter Kromberg at the InterContinental London Park Lane Hotel. For the Goring itself, the collaboration was perhaps a more remarkable decision — since Siren is the first restaurant to open within the hotel in 109 years.
The first thing to note about Siren, to appease any Outlawians who considers his proper place of residence to be England’s rugged southwestern coast, is that it is distinctly Cornish. From the lobster pots hanging from the ceiling, playing host to an assorted array of crystal crustaceans, to the edible seafood on offer — step inside this glass-walled restaurant and you leave all of London’s urban delights at the door.
In fact, it is a shared Cornish connection that bonds Jeremy Goring, great-grandson of the hotel’s founder Otto R. Goring, with Nathan Outlaw. Incidentally, and rather pleasingly, I happened to spot The Goring’s own fishing boat catching the restaurant’s evening dinner while aboard the ferry from Rock to Padstow when holidaying last week.
Outlaw’s mission with Siren is to showcase the best of Cornish produce, with what he describes as “simple seafood dishes of understated brilliance” — and the menu plays to the strengths which earned the chef two Michelin stars at his eponymous Port Isaac restaurant. To start, I opted for the lobster and pea tart — a light, summery creation in which the succulent, robust meat proved the star, but which felt a little underwhelming for the £22 price tag. Happily, my dining companion allowed me to snaffle one of her six Dooncastle Oysters, which the menu states are Outlaw’s personal favourite, grown on the west coast of Ireland. Succulent, salty and seriously meaty, it is not hard to see why.
For mains, I had seriously high hopes for the red mullet, devilled shrimp butter and chicory — a dish which single-handedly encompasses all of my preferred flavours. It did not disappoint, and my only regret for the evening was that I went in a little too fervently on an appetiser of warm St John bakery boule with generous dipping dish of taramasalata — leaving me quite stuffed and unable to finish my fish. In the interest of research, I snuck a forkful of the baked hake, served with fennel and seaweed hollandaise from the plate across the table — and was pleasantly surprised by its remarkable meatiness.
On our sommelier’s recommendation, we enjoyed a bottle of 2018 Cornish (naturally) Camel Valley Bacchus Dry, which made an inoffensive but rather unexciting companion to the kaleidoscope of flavours on the food menu. Our tasting experience was rounded-off by a much-needed herbal tea, which we fancied might go some way in balancing out the calories (and saltwater) we had spent two hours consuming. That’s how it works, right?
Siren at The Goring, 15 Beeston Place, London SW1. Book here