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The Grill at the Dorchester - Restaurant Review

The Dorchester, Park Lane, London W1K 1QA
020 7629 8888

Every so often one needs a real treat – which for some of us means splashing out on dinner in a grand dining room. The Dorchester Grill had a recent makeover which converted it from grand Spanish barocco to equally grand Scottish baronial, a transformation achieved mainly by some theatrical frescoes of Scottish lairds dressed up in their full plaid monty. The reasoning behind this nationality change was so that the décor would more closely reflect the traditional grill room themes of smoked salmon and roast Angus beef both of which are carved on trolleys tableside as they say across the pond. But let me make it clear at the outset, the rest of Chef Aiden Byrne’s menu is bold and innovative as you will see.

Grand hotel restaurants have been coming back into favour over the past decade. Gone are boring “international” menus the size of a broadsheet newspaper and etched in stone; gone are maitre d’s, obsequious waiters and snooty sommeliers. At the Dorchester Grill our particular waiting staff were charming and professional German girls who were so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about every dish one might almost suppose they’d be off to the kitchen to cook them. A third German mädchen was sommelier Jason McAuliffe’s deputy; she rose admirably to the challenge of providing a different tasting glass of wine to complement each of the six dishes we enjoyed. The whole front of house appeared to be directed effortlessly by a young American who turned out to be standing in for restaurant manager Daniel Pawelek.

We began by sharing some smoked salmon which was clearly made from wild Atlantic fish, the firm unfatty texture in particular differentiating it from the more usual farmed fish. This was partnered with a 2004 Riesling “von blauern schiefe”. The starters were all most tempting - fancying fish, I chose scallops but therefore had to reject the likes of Dublin Bay prawns or red mullet with squid ink risotto and tomato confit. My scallops were perfectly caramelised, bathing in a velvety velouté of cauliflower and some intriguing sherry jelly – an excellent dish. Really good English asparagus needs little help – some would say the less the better. Here a few spears were wrapped in bacon and served with some morel and boiled egg - very tasty but a bit too clever. Meanwhile more wonderful wines appeared which I’ll list at the end; otherwise this blow by blow account will get tedious.

The main dishes reflect the chef’s interest in finding intriguing combinations of flavours so that the principal ingredient becomes more of an ensemble player. So for instance, the sea bass comes with pork belly and chorizo risotto. My squab pigeon was sensational, and repaid the intricate work that had gone into its preparation. The legs had been deboned and stuffed with foie gras, while the breast had been slow cooked for hours sous-vide, (vacuum packed and immersed at 50C in a water bath). This method produces wonderful results and is being adopted by many top chefs.

Unashamed meat eaters are well catered for with saddle of lamb, fillet of beef with braised snails and of course the rib of beef from the enormous silver domed trolley, which was busily circumnavigating the dining room. My guest’s middle white pork was also amazingly tender and scored a high oink factor of 8 for sheer porkiness.

When the American deputy manager trundled casually past with the cheese trolley he made sure we caught a good whiff of the fine collection of English and French cheeses – we were immediately seduced (so little moral fibre!) and we shared a modest selection, really only to finish up our main course wines, naturally. The evening was unfolding most delightfully.

I’ve long thought that red bell peppers (which when roasted exude a rich sweetness) could be the basis for an interesting and unusual dessert. I tried stuffing them with strawberries and the results were spectacularly tasty but I never did crack the presentation. Imagine my surprise and delight when I found this on the dessert menu: Canelloni of red pepper with strawberry parfait and roasted strawberries. My flavour combination was all present and correct and the artistry on the plate was iconic. That and a glass of top notch Sauternes brought a very happy evening to a close.

Clifford Mould June 2007
The Grill at The Dorchester is highly recommended by Dine Online

The Cost: Starters: £13.50 - £19.00; Mains around £27.00, Puds all £10.50

Our wines, selected for us by sommelière Nadine Weihgold

Riesling, Weingut Heymann, Löwenstein Mosel 2004 (smoked salmon)

Pinot Gris, Adelaide Hills, Australia 2006 (Scallops)

Amontillado Sherry, Lustau (Asparagus & bacon)

Pinot Noir, Apsley Gorge, Tasmania 2005 (Pigeon)

Grüner Veltliner, Wachau Austria 2005 (Middle White)

Chateau Suduiraut, 1er Cru Sauternes (at this point I must have lost my presence of mind as I failed to record the vintage – sorry!)


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