Tuesday, 10 September 2013

REVIEW: The Grill at The Dorchester, Park Lane, Mayfair

The Dorchester Hotel is one the best known establishments in the city, not only in london, but across the world. Opening its doors in 1931 its been at the epitome of luxury both in its interior design, service and of course, food and wine. It has been a home to famous faces who treat it as their second residency and a place where royalty and politicians regularly visit. The car park outside is always full of some of the worlds most expensive super cars - a night here isn't cheap, but you do get what you're paying for, and thats the same with the food.

It was the first time we had been to the Dorchester, and an odd place it is. As you walk through the main entrance you're immediately in the lobby which stretches far back into the building and is full of people having afternoon tea, drinks and light snacks - it was full of atmosphere. We sat down, and to our surprise we were quite taken back by the grill’s lavish decor. It had a very strong Scottish influence, adorned with red and green tartan, huge paintings of Scottish figures on the wall and entrances covered in gold. It felt like christmas had come early and when that time does comes around - i'm sure this place can feel magical.

A very nice selection of bread arrived, about six different types which were accompanied by the most unusual butters i've had in some time. An olive butter, a brown sugared variation and a chocolate flavoured butter. The olive infused butter was definitely the best - the chocolate i wasn’t so sure about. The bread was shortly followed by an amuse bouche of delicately cooked crispy salmon with an avocado puree -  sadly i forgot to take a photo.

We were dining from the tasting menu and the first dish to arrive blew me away. A chilled pea soup with a pea infused yogurt ball and lashings of mint oil. The soup itself was heavenly, perfectly textured, silky and smooth with a pea flavour so refined it makes you wonder how something so simple can taste just this good. The pea infused yogurt gave a another texture to the dish and really thickened it out will the mint freshened everything up. A thin crisp sat perched on the side of the plate and was dolloped with the same ingredients but either all pureed or as a dry crumble. Very impressive and i’d happily go back for this.

Next dish was the wild sea bass, oyster, beans, pancetta, apple and tarragon. The oyster was served on the side and covered in an apple jelly, i have never really seen the point to an oyster but was pleasantly surprised - though it still hasn't converted me. The sea bass was cooked perfectly with a very crisp skin. Tarragon came in the form of foam while all the other ingredients were made into a delicious medley on the side. I wouldn’t call this dish amazing, but it was certainly good and showed off some nice skills in the kitchen.

The salt marsh lamb, English peas, asparagus and potato risotto came out next. The lamb was cooked three ways. One piece so unusual its texture was completely new to me - by lamb standards anyway. Soft like a terrine but with a shredded texture. A small square nugget which consisted of mainly fat, and a juicy slab of richly flavoured lamb with mouthwatering crispy skin were also on hand to help my heart attack along the way. It could have perhaps been cooked a little rarer but i'd had so much wine at this point it didn't matter. The pea and asparagus medley was delicious but the potato risotto was very dull and added nothing but liquid and texture to the dish.

British cheese plate selection was absolutely fantastic and can be ordered for an £8 supplement. A bargain if you ask me as it also includes a glass of vintage port, grapes (of course) and hazelnut bread. All the cheeses are brought to the table on a cart, where from you can either pick whatever takes your fancy, or like me a selection of every cheese available - i'm on the path to morbidly obese in my older life i think - the Stinking Bishop was my favourite.

Dessert was sublime. A hard shelled hazelnut moelleux which at first we thought was solid, but a hard whack with the back of my spoon and an explosion of gooey, silky chocolate emerges. Underneath the moelleux sat a crunchy chocolate soil and a scoop of very well made mascarpone ice cream (my favourite kind) - that and a bowl strawberries, i'm anyones. The dessert was paired with a red Muscadele wine from South Africa which went beautifully. Generally, the wines were excellent, and the menu which included all this food, plus a very large glass of wine with each course which i struggled to down (etiquette - i mean sip) was £85. I normally spend more than this on wine alone, excellent value i thought.

The meal wasn't quite over without a final helping of some petit fours. I loved the fun little marshmallow knot. Actually i loved most of the food here at The Grill, there is something about it that makes me want to come back, especially for the sunday roast i've heard all about. Other reviews may have criticised service for not having much personality and for the waiters being from eastern Europe, but who cares? For me service was spot on and although yes, a few words from my waiter were a little hard to grasp, i felt like royalty by the time i walked out. This isn't 1931 anymore and silver service is far from being exclusive to the UK. Order the tasting menu plus wine pairing and you'll have an evening to remember.


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