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1st March 2024

Ronel Lehmann reviews Saison: “If only our politics could be as sweet as this’

Ronel Lehmann

It was absolutely bucketing down. There was only one thing for it. My guest was coming from the Palace of Westminster, and it seemed sensible to book a table with the shortest stroll to the Old War Office. This is one of the great buildings from the Edwardian Age, originally completed in 1906 and recently reincarnated as Raffles, with an eye watering refurbishment.

Having parted with my umbrella, I arrived a few minutes early in this Mediterranean all-day dining atrium. The waiter was quick and attentive and sparkling mineral water immediately served. I decided to use the wine list to cover the uplighter spotlight which was beaming from the floor right in between me and my companion. The first thing that I noticed after my retina had adjusted was my side plate appeared to be used. On closer inspection, the waiter explained that this was the design of the plate to incorporate the yellow splashings of citrus. After the reassurance that it wasn’t uric acid, I felt able to place my freshly baked focaccia on the plate. The focaccia was so airy and melted in the mouth with a dunking of olive oil.

Over the years, my surname has been refashioned as lemon, layman, leeman and lenor, and the table theme continued with a fresh lemon and lime decoration in keeping with the celebrated Argentine Chef, Mauro Colagreco’s philosophy, and approach to seasonal cuisine.

We elected to have a main course only. Parliamentarians are under pressure to be able to vote at short notice and the ravioli dish was hastily ordered. The presentation of the Pumpkin Ravioli was exquisite, small wheels of patterned pasta, roasted chestnut, more lemon confit, and winter black truffle. We were hungry and didn’t notice that parmesan wasn’t offered. The seasonal leaves described as a Crate to Plate Salad with herb vinaigrette was a colourful accompaniment to the ravioli.

By this time, we had looked at the other tables and had begun to recognise other notable Members of Parliament and strategists deep in conversation.

Rather than be distracted further, we decided to share the Citrus Tart and lemon leaf ice cream. When it arrived a reduction of fruits and herbs were gently poured over the pudding. I was thinking if only our politics could be as sweet as this, and then why did we share, when overcome by such a rich and divine lemon taste. The espresso cup was served in a cacophony of colours together with a small freshly baked biscotti.


Before we left the Attrium, there was time for a photograph. This place is Instagram heaven and I suspect that the waiters are getting used to being paparazzi. If there was a criticism after the faultless cuisine and service, the piped music didn’t match the grandeur of the establishment. I am reminded of the famous quote “Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.” It is a bit like that, I might visit Saison again in the Spring.

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