What do we need to know about the Grill at the Dorchester?
The Dorchester already has a big restaurant in the shape of the three Michelin starred Alain Ducasse, but now Ducasse's influence has crossed the lobby to the hotel's other big restaurant, with his protege Christophe Marleix taking the helm at The Grill.
If you've been before you can hardly have forgotten the very Brigadoon look of the previous room. All that has now been completely replaced in one of the most extensive makeovers we've seen in London. Everything has been stripped down, given a modern luxe makeover and there's a new bar too. There's also an open view into the kitchen with an undeniably striking arrangement of various brass cooking containers. It all looks a million dollars, and we wouldn't be surprised if it cost just that to get those results.
The dining room also has a very cool feature which makes eating there at lunch and dinner quite a different experience, but more of that in a bit.
Where is it?
If you haven't been to the Dorchester before, it's at the south end of Park Lane, nearest to Hyde Park station. For The Grill head straight on into The Promenade and it's on your right.
Where can we meet for drinks beforehand?
Given the area, pretty much everywhere close by is pretty spendy. We're big fans of the bar at Galvin at Windows, but it's not the easiest place to just pop into for a drink. There's also Bar 45 at Cut, directly opposite the Dorchester.
But we'd suggest the best bet is to head past all the people eating and drinking in the main "Promenade" and take a seat at the bar at the back, right beside the piano player. The cheapest wine there was a very fine Gruner Veltliner at £10 which is actually quite well priced for the area. Alternatively, you can head straight into the Grill and take a stool at the new bar there.
Where should we sit?
The revamped room is now much more open than before - removing the previous centrepiece. But we think the best seat by far is the corner table that's on the right as you walk in the door. That's where we sat and it's the perfect place to take in the dining room and for a spot of people watching too.
And that change from day to night?
They have a really neat trick that changes the mirror arrangement in the walls between the lunch service (where they need more light in the room) and evening when more of a dinner atmosphere is needed. The best way to explain it is to show you...
And how about the food?
Right from the very first delivery of the amuse bouches - salmon rillettes - it's easy to see the influence of Ducasse. So while dishes lean traditionally towards what you'd expect from a grill, there's a definite luxury element to most of the food here.
Standouts on the night were:
- The "Fish and chips" - some excellent fish goujons and tartare sauce topped off by an architectural shard of potato crisp (£17)
- The very rich, and perfectly cooked, beef tournedos - although the cheese on the Yorkshire pudding was a case of gilding the lily (£46)
- Perfectly cooked pork belly "cooked seven hours then grilled" which comes with an unbilled potato salad (£32)
- The excellent souffles - which have an entire section of the menu devoted to them. There are five on offer at £14 each - chocolate, rum and raisin, pistachio and salted caramel, vanilla and grapefruit. You are going to want to make it to this section of the menu, so bear that in mind when ordering.
They score points for a perfectly made champagne cocktail (£18) and one of the newer cocktails, the Beauty Stars (Vodka, vanilla and passion friut - £16) was a pleasantly alcoholic treat. Wines start at £9 a glass for a Riesling or Languedoc and the cheapest bottle is £25 for a Le Grand Noir chardonnay.
There's no doubt that money has been poured into the refurbishment of the Grill, giving the Dorchester one of the most impressive dining rooms in London. It was packed on Tuesday evening we visited and we think giving the restaurant a bit of a "destination" feel about it will do it a world of good. A very successful makeover of both room and menu, then.
The Grill at the Dorchester is at Park Lane, Mayfair London, W1K1QA. Find out more.
Hot Dinners were invited to The Grill at The Dorchester. Prices were correct at the time of writing.