Alex Webb On Park Lane

One Hamilton Place, Park Lane, London, W1J 7QY, United Kingdom

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This restaurant opened in October 2022 in the Intercontinental Hotel. Head chef Alex Webb trained at some prestigious restaurants including Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, Dinner by Heston and Roux at Parliament Square before winning “Masterchef: The Professionals” in 2020. Other than a pop-up restaurant in Park Lane Terrace, this is his first solo venture. There was a tasting menu at £110 or an a la carte selection, with three courses priced at £65.

The quite short wine list had 40 labels and ranged in price from £28 to £582, with a median price of £88 and an average markup to retail price of 3.2 times, which is not too bad by central London standards these days. Sample references were Fantini Farnese Organic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2019 at £44 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £13, Domaine Châtelain Pouilly-Fumé Les Chailloux Silex 2021 at £64 compared to its retail price of £22, and Kooyong Faultline Chardonnay 2021 at £98 for a wine that will set you back £29 in the high street. For those with the means there was Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet Blanc 2020 at £194 compared to its retail price of £72, and Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Rosé 2013 at £582 for a wine whose current market value is £284.

The ground floor dining room is smartly decorated, with well-spaced tables and a view out on to Park Lane. A canape of crab was served on a squid ink cracker, along with some lime gel, pickled gherkin, crème fraiche and Exmoor caviar. This was quite pleasant, the crab pleasingly sweet though the dressing being a little too sharp even to my taste. The Exmoor caviar was rather muddy in texture though the idea of the saltiness balancing the sweetness of the crab was a good one; it just needed better quality caviar to really pull the idea off. There was also a piece of crab shell in amongst the white crab meat, which was rather careless (13/20).

Smoked beef tartare was made using beef fillet from the Lake District, combined with bronze fennel and egg yolk puree, and attractively assembled into a cylinder topped with Exmoor caviar and garnished with edible flowers. This was served under a dome filled with smoke and opened at the table. Sometimes this effect can backfire with the smoke dominating the dish, but here it was quite restrained. The beef was not chopped too finely and was nicely seasoned, with the caviar providing some natural salinity. The sourdough croutons on the side were rock hard, seemingly rather stale. To be honest these would have been better omitted (comfortably 14/20 for the tartare, ignoring the croutons). This was much better than charred mackerel with crème fraiche, wild garlic sauce and pickled rhubarb along with some rock-hard croutons. I am a big fan of mackerel but this particular fish, cooked but served cold, had decent texture but limited flavour, and seemed to entirely lack seasoning. The notion of the acidic rhubarb to balance the natural oils of the mackerel makes sense, but the fish was so bland that it didn’t really provide much flavour to require balancing (11/20 is kind).

Whole Dover sole cooked in a salt crust was £80 for two people and was filleted at the table by the chef, the fillets served with brown butter sauce, capers and kombu, flavoured with a little lemon and parsley. The fish was cooked well enough but didn't have the distinctive rich flavour of the very best specimens of Dover sole (13/20). On the side was a slab of slow cooked potato that was flavoured with thyme and butter and was covered with flecks of grated Parmesan. The potato was nicely cooked and the cheese lifted its flavour nicely. A further accompaniment was English asparagus, both green and white, pan-fried with mushrooms including enoki. The asparagus was cooked quite well and flavoured with wild garlic and lemon dressing (side dishes comfortably 13/20).

Passion fruit parfait was served on a chocolate base with a dark chocolate glaze, along with a passion fruit baba and gel. This had quite smooth texture, the passion fruit flavour being curiously restrained (13/20). I preferred poached rhubarb with vanilla custard and rhubarb gel covered with a layer of candy floss. The acidity of the rhubarb nicely cut through the richness of the vanilla custard, and the dish had good balance (14/20). Coffee was from a company called Kiss the Hippo, and was quite good.

There was a curiously long gap between the canape and the (cold) starters on an evening with just half a dozen tables taken, but after that the pace of dishes was reasonable. Service itself was very good, with a particularly charming waitress called Jemima, who looked after us very well. The bill came to £164 per person, though you could order cheaper wine and escape for perhaps £115 per head. I found the meal to be rather erratic in standard, especially given the relatively high price point. The beef tartare was genuinely good, as was the rhubarb dessert, but set against that were some other rather disappointing dishes. The kitchen needs to be more consistent than it was tonight, given its price point.

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