Dorchester Grill Room

Dorchester Hotel, London, England, W1A 2HU, United Kingdom

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Chef interview

Aiden was head chef at Tom Aikens before moving to The Dorchester. He now runs his own restaurant, The Church Green in Cheshire.

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The Dorchester Grill dates back to 1931 and has had several incarnations over the years. The head chef now is Tom Booton, who was formerly sous chef at Alyn Williams at The Westbury for three years. He trained initially at Le Talbooth in Colchester and later worked at l’Autre Pied for three years. The room is attractively laid out with well-spaced, large tables, and the menu is a la carte. This for me is a welcome change in an age when interminable tasting menus seem to be the norm.

The vast wine list had 601 labels and ranged in price from £43 to £12,000, with a median price of £160 and an average markup to retail price of 3.6 times, which is high even by the demanding standards of Park Lane. Sample references were Bodegas Naia Verdejo K-Naia 2018 at £45 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £12, Szarka Pince Furmint Mád 2017 at £60 compared to its retail price of £22, and Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2020 at £98 for a wine that will set you back £30 in the high street. For those with the means there was Domaine Fourrier Cherbaudes 2013 at £350 compared to its retail price of £274, and Gaja Barbaresco 2012 at £720 for a wine whose current market value is £245. The coverage of this list was considerable. If you fancy a Japanese Chardonnay, a Moroccan Syrah or a Georgian Kakheti wine then this list has you covered. 

We began with an array of canapes. Killough Bay Oysters were served raw in their shells with lime, and there was good salami that was cured in the kitchen and served on crispy semolina. Cod croquettes were crisp and came with a tomato Hollandaise dip. Shimeji mushrooms were fried with spicy XO sauce, which they needed since shimeji mushrooms do not have a lot of inherent flavour. Squid Bolognese was an acknowledged nod to Pierre Koffmann, the squid being shaped to look like pasta. By far the best of the canapes was chicken liver parfait enriched with foie gras snow and served with laminated brioche. The parfait had a silky texture and was richer than most due to the foie gras, but because this was served in snow form it was not overly rich. The brioche was top class (average of canapes 15/20, but the parfait was better than this).

The one dish of the meal that slightly misfired for me was the Cornish crab with apple and celeriac (£26). Apple and crab is a classic flavour combination, and I normally love celeriac as a flavour, but in this dish its distinct earthiness just took over and dominated the crab. I can imagine this combination working, but it was not quite in balance here (13/20).

A whole Norfolk chicken (£100 for two people) was roasted and served with the legs glazed and with little chicken pies on the side. This was excellent, served with a pesto sauce. The chicken was carefully cooked and had decent flavour, though a British chicken is always going to struggle to compete in labour with a top-quality French bird. Nonetheless, it was very enjoyable, and the glazed wings and little pies on the side were lovely (15/20). A monkfish main course (£38) with ceps and lingonberries that was served to two of the guests at our table was also well received. Hispi cabbage (£9) was rather undercooked. I would certainly prefer cabbage to be undercooked rather than overcooked, but this was on the raw end of the spectrum. Chips (£9), by contrast, were superb, crisp and having lovely texture inside.

Apple tarte tatin (£13 each) was excellent, the sharpness of the apples cutting through the richness of the caramel, while the pastry base was lovely. My only quibble was that the apples were a bit over-caramelised to my taste (15/20). Coffee was from Difference Coffee, and there was a good selection of teas also. The Brazil Yellow Bourbon coffee was £8, the Jamaican Blue Mountain was £12.

Service was genuinely charming throughout the evening, the staff being friendly and highly professional. The bill came to £250 per person with plenty of good wine. If you had three courses and shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per person might come to around £120. The Dorchester Grill offers an appealing a la carte menu of generally well executed dishes. The delightful waiting staff enhance the experience.

Further reviews: 17th Dec 2021 | 10th Sep 2021 | 04th Jan 2020 | 14th Mar 2015 | 26th Mar 2011

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