Hotel AMANO Covent Garden, has unveiled a new winter menu at Penelope’s the Israel and Spanish fusion restaurant.

For years I’ve been hearing that hotel restaurants were notorious for not being all that great, but I’ve come to understand that it all depends on the management.

So it’s not all one sided, in fact I even put together a list of a few favourite bars and restaurants nestled under a hotel partnership. Spoiler alert, Penelope’s is now on that list too.

As soon as we walk in we’re welcomed with the warmest ambience, and not just the pleasing colours of dark beige and chocolate brown timber décor but also the staff.From the smiley lady at the reception to the staff at the table.

It even feels a little like home, not the floral curtains style but rather a sophisticated and stylish home with the warmth and style of a Northern Mediterranean family.

The dishes are a fusion of Spanish and Israeli, something neither of us had come across before, but they sound good from the freekeh seafood paella to caviar topped saffron scallops.

We are slightly overwhelmed, but very promptly rescued by the lovely Paulo who offers to bring us his favourite selection to try. We happily agree.

Starting with Kashkaval Fondue with manchego and red chermoula. Waiters do an excellent job explaining the less familiar ingredients. Although I already knew Kashkaval, the yellow style cheese popular in the Balkans particularly in breakfast pastries.

Combined with one of my most adored cheeses – manchego the dish achieves the Alpine style fondue texture with milder and less pungent notes. With an excellent roundup of the delicate red chermoula, a paprika and spice mix popular in Africa.

The service is exceptionally fast there we barely start on the fondue we already get two more dishes to admire – ox cheek with jerusalem artichoke and chestnut dukka.

I always associate Jerusalem artichoke with beginning of winter here in the UK as it pops up on winter specials. Its unmissable earthy sunflower like flavour makes it a great vegetable in purées like the case here.

The creamy puree holds delicate and tender ox cheek on the fork as we bite into it. It’s perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

Ironically even my guest, who was telling me he wasn’t a fan of these two ingredients just a few days prior to the visit, looks pretty impressed.

Next is the Israeli tomatoes salad, a proper salad, tomatoes with flavour, a rarity in the UK at this time of the year. The salad is toped with pomegranate and sliced sweet grapes, a combination that works well, despite the odds.

For mains we share one of “the best sirloin steaks” – I’m quoting my guest here but I certainly side with him. You can really taste the smoky notes of the flame grill on the tender meat and quality sweet fat rim.

I complain that there isn’t enough of the coal roasted aubergine paste, frankly speaking it’s a good portion but it’s so good, you can easily have it as a side dish on its own. 

As we divide last pieces of the steak we’re presented with an impressive caviar-topped four king scallops and Israeli style paella, the only two dishes I wasn’t too over the moon about.

I wanted to love the scallops, but for me there’s a little bit too many clashing flavours of slightly warmed up caviar releasing more of its fruity fish notes overpowering the delicate scallops.

But like the Israeli paella the scallops seemed to be the top ordered dish at the tables all around us and the guests cleared them. So it’s a personal preference.

I have to leave space for the desserts because, well, they were one of the best I have tried in a long time, possibly as long as I remember and it’s a strong statement.

From previous reviews I admit I have an obsession with the Basque style cheesecake the one with the runny middle.

But it gets even better this one is baked in honey soaked filo – baklava style thin pastry.

It’s a whole different level, who knew they go so well together and why has no one thought of this before? That’s a cheesecake worth spending £11 for.

Not only that the cheesecake’s also a good fat slice, meaning we don’t have to fight over it, we still do, a little. I offer the last bite secretly hoping my plus one says no, being a gentleman he is he does of course.

Second dessert plate doesn’t fall behind it’s Basque Bomb a silky roasted on the sides meringue revealing layers of sweet banana, chocolate and sour cherry.

I would come back to Penelope’s for desserts, drinks, wine as well as dinners. It’s a good destination suited for a multitude of occasions.

Penelope’s Amano Group, Drury House, 34-43 Russell St, London WC2B 5HA