‘Classic, but with modern touches' could describe both the Grill menu and the restaurant's new look, says Janet Harmer
The new version of the 65-seat Grill at the Dorchester cleverly combines glamour with a more relaxed vibe, in comparison with its previous somewhat dated, tartan-heavy design. Launched last month, with an interior by architect Bruno Moinard, the new Grill is an impressive space with the glitz that one would expect from the Dorchester, but also the buzz that today's customers are looking for.
A bar on one side of the restaurant and an open kitchen on the other provides an informal edge, while wall panels rotate from gold-stencilled sycamore during the day to a more dramatic black lacquer at night. A bespoke handmade chandelier by Aristide Najean comprising 230 pieces of Murano glass, adds a contemporary edge, and the original gold ceiling and doors offer a nod to the room's heritage.
But while the restaurant looks super-swish, it will be the food and the friendly, intuitive service that will create returning customers. It is down to the teams, led by head chef Christophe Marleix (pictured) and restaurant director Andres Munoz Honiball, to ensure this will happen. Following in the footsteps of such legendary chefs as Eugene Kaufler, Anton Mosimann and Willi Elsener, Marleix is aiming to respect the culinary heritage of the restaurant by sourcing the finest, preferably British, ingredients.
The Á la carte menu (nine starters, 12 main courses and 12 desserts or cheese) operates alongside a set lunch menu at £39 for three courses from Monday to Saturday and a Sunday roast menu at £48. It includes such classics as chicken Caesar salad (£19), using organic chicken breasts from the Rhug Estate in North Wales, and 1.2kg whole Dover sole with lemon, capers and croutons (£52 for two), as well as a selection of Marleix's own dishes.
One that is fast becoming a signature for the restaurant, due to its popularity, is the starter of blue lobster chowder, mushroom and chive (£17). Sourced from Chamberlain at Billingsgate market, the lobster is served in a bowl, alongside confit potatoes, button mushrooms and a purée of spinach and parsley, with the intensely flavoured bisque, enhanced by a splash of Jules Clairon Napoleon brandy and a dash of white wine, poured over at the table. A quenelle of whipped cream topped with thin slivers of lemon peel completes the dish.
Of the main courses, the veal chop, mushrooms and cream (£32) is flying out the door, while the peppered organic Aberdeen Angus prime rib for two (£34 per person) has also been well received, with customers enjoying the theatrics of it being carved on the trolley.
Marleix has returned to France to source pork from a Large White breed in Cantal - chosen for its extra covering of fat. He slowly roasts the belly and then grills it prior to service, when it is accompanied by with onions, gherkins and mustard marmalade (£32).
Puddings feature the familiar - a bread and butter pudding (£13) that has changed very little since Mosimann introduced it to the menu some 30 years ago - and the not-so-familiar, such as a lemon tart our way (£13), so-called because the meringue ball is not quite what it first appears. Once cracked open, the interior of the meringue reveals all the ingredients of a traditional tart: a concentrated citrusy filling combined with shortcrust pasty and lemon.
It is the selection of soufflés, though, which are perhaps having the biggest impact, with the Grill set to become the first London location to major on them since the late Peter Kromberg made them his own at the aptly named Le Souffle restaurant at the InterContentinental London Park Lane.
"We wanted to differentiate ourselves in offering not one soufflé, but a diverse collection," says Marleix. Pastry chef Ludovic Cuny uses the best ingredients to create a seasonal selection, each costing £14. Alongside chocolate, Diplomatico 'reserva' rum with raisin ice-cream, Tahitian vanilla, and grapefruit, the Sicilian pistachio, with a perfectly pitched salted caramel ice-cream, is the real winner.
From the menu
- Coddled egg, crayfish and herb fricassée £19
- Lemon sole 'goujonnettes and chips', tartare sauce £17
- Westcombe Cheddar farmhouse soufflé £12
- Duck foie gras escalope, raw/cooked beetroots £28
- Wild sea bass, citrus condiment £32
- Vegetables from a 'pot-au-feu', vintage vinegar £14
- Mango, crumble, exotic fruit sorbet £13
- Our favourite cheesecake, citrus marmalade £13
- Grapefruit soufflé £14
The Grill at the Dorchester
Park Lane, London W1K 1QA
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