Even as a London local, there is something I really love about Covent Garden. Despite the omnipresent crowds, it always holds an ethereal charm for me. That said, it can be all too easy to stumble into one of the many tourist money machines; £45 steaks churned out lovelessly by chefs trained in little other than microwaves and a frying pan hotter than the sun. It pays to do your homework, and in this case I have gladly done it for you.
Pivot by Mark Greenaway is located on Henrietta Street, on the perimeter of the main piazza. Shouldered by The Ivy and DTF, an unassuming townhouse front door gives little hint as to what lies inside.
You are in for a treat.
Hailing from Scotland Pivot is Greenaway’s first London venue, which he opened in 2021, fresh off the back of his Edinburgh-based success Grazing at the Waldorf Astoria. You enter the first floor room past an open-kitchen with dining counter, which then leads on to a warm, cosy dining section in baked terracotta hues. The window overlooks the twinkling lights of the piazza. I sense that I am going to be very happy here for the next couple of hours.
Diners have the option of either a four-course choice menu at £65 or the eight-course tasting menu at £85. Beyond this, you have the option of a couple of different wine pairings or a cocktail pairing – which I don’t recall seeing before. I opt for the wine and my dining companion selects the cocktail option. In hindsight, let’s just say it’s a good job I was writing the review and not her.
Our amuse bouche is served theatrically in a tin emblazoned with “Snacks”. Inside, we discover a light rice cracker topped with salmon tartare and lovage. The lovage gives a gently spiced lift to the rich salmon. We are also treated to beef tartare with horseradish and fennel, served in a delicate pastry cylinder. This is also perfectly light and delicious – I could happily devour more but I am also aware we have another seven courses in front of us.
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The first course is a choice of either treacle and stout sourdough with duck skin butter and peppered olive oil, or “crab on toast” – toast fingers served with a crab shell of white crab meat, shellfish butter and hazelnut cream. I select the sourdough – it is wonderfully fresh and bouncy in the middle, whilst crisp on the outside with just the right amount of sweetness. My friend has the crab and enthuses about the combination of flavours and textures.
The second course would have to be my favourite of the evening. Lightly poached and charred Scottish langoustine, on a clarified tomato jelly with avocado cream, served alongside a brioche lobster “roll” topped with crispy onions. It is indulgent, rich and absolutely delicious in every way.
Next we are treated to roscoff onion, glistening and al dente, giving way to a gorgeous little parcel of lamb haggis. Having never actually tried haggis, I will myself to be brave here, for which I am duly rewarded with moist, tender meat lightly sweetened with spice. A light dab of potato puree gives the dish a notion of the best roast dinner you’ve ever eaten.
The fish course is a flaky, white piece of halibut, lightly seared on the outside. It sits in a pool of vanilla broth, next to a vibrantly striped lobster cannelloni and salsify crisps. The sweetness of the lobster and vanilla are well paired with the woody, salty salsify notes. This is clean, perfect execution with exquisite flavours.
Our final savoury course is a perfectly pink lamb chop, next to a shepherds pie which is encased in artichoke rather than regular pastry. This clever touch stops the dish from being too heavy – good thinking, given that we are six courses in. It comes with a side dish of sweetbreads and red cabbage. I have shied away from sweetbreads in the past but by this stage I trust Mark and rightly so; these are crisp, well-seasoned and tender.
The first dessert comes in shape of a very cute ice lolly; pina colada-esqe flavours with white chocolate and meringue. It is beautiful and a perfect sweet adjustment to our tastebuds.
As they say, all good things must come to an end… our final dish is a beautifully constructed amalgam of rhubarb, white chocolate, lemon and hibiscus. Crisp pastry and sugar shards are dotted through lemon gel, rhubarb and hibiscus icecream, poached rhubarb and lemony cake. The tart notes are perfectly matched by sweet ones. A lot of work has gone into this dessert and it pays off.
In summary, the pace, variety and amount of food we are served is absolutely spot on. You often leave a tasting menu feeling either like you may never eat again or looking up the nearest fast food joint. Neither is the case here; it is just right.
I have to give special mention to the sommelier – Athina – making the drinks pairings a very important part of the experience here. The caramel Manhattan is one of the finest cocktails I’ve had in a long time. We also sample the incredible chardonnay grape vodka, used in the first martini of the evening. The wine pairings are sophisticated, well considered and elevate the food even further.
I speak with Mark after our meal and learn that he is passionate about championing ingredients from sustainable, traceable sources – as well as using as much of the animal or produce as possible. Slightly emboldened by Athina’s pours over the evening, I ask Mark why he goes to the trouble of changing the menu every month? Surely quarterly would be less work? His response is simple – it keeps the dishes fresh and seasonal, plus they want to provide variety to their regular guests that book in every month.
As I bid my farewells and step back out into the twinkling lights, I sense I might become one of those regulars.
Pivot by Mark Greenaway, 3 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden WC2E 8LU
Tel. 020 3325 5275