This was my second meal at The Dorchester Grill under head chef Tom Booton. For Tom’s background and for comments on the wine list here please see my previous review. The style of cooking is classical French with some British touches. The room itself is smartly decorated with widely spaced tables, and although there is no natural light in the room there is a pleasant, surprisingly informal feel to the place. The menu was a la carte, and there was also a three-course lunch menu at £30, which is a pretty modest price for lunch at The Dorchester Park Lane, albeit with less luxurious ingredients than on the a la carte.
To begin was a little canape of chicken liver parfait with pear chutney and foie gras snow. This worked very well, the liver parfait smooth and with deep flavour, the foie gras snow adding a contrasting texture, the pear chutney bringing some balancing acidity from the fruit. This was a canape you would be pleased to get in a two-star Michelin restaurant (17/20). Brioche and stout bread were both made from scratch in the kitchen, and both had good texture.
Colchester crab was mixed with cobnuts, grapes and yoghurt, with a sheet of kohlrabi on top. This was a refreshing dish, the crunchy kohlrabi and the nuts providing textural contrast to the delicate white crab meat, the grapes providing some acidity to work with the natural sweetness of the crab (15/20). Roasted Orkney scallop came with bacon jam and onion soubise. The scallop was large, naturally sweet and lightly cooked, the smoky hint of the bacon jam a pleasing contrast. Soubise is a classical onion sauce adapted and modernised by Escoffier, the onion sauce here surrounded by an outer ring of chicken stock, which went nicely with the shellfish (16/20).
Veal sweetbread was the dish of the meal, the sweetbread having light texture and excellent flavour. It was served on an excellent celeriac risotto, whose earthy flavour was a fine contrast to the richness of the sweetbreads. The dish was completed by trompette mushrooms and a little tarragon, which elevated the dish nicely (17/20).
Lobster thermidor tart is a modern take on the classic thermidor, a dish that dates back to Paris in 1894 at a restaurant called Maire, named after a play that was running at the time. Here the precisely cooked lobster tail was presented atop a tart with a rich wine-based sauce, with a further seafood bisque. This was a much-improved version of the dish that I had tried here last time (16/20). Potato boulangere on the side was suitably rich, the potatoes having good texture and the onions nicely caramelised, served in a cast iron pot.
Waterloo cheese, a soft cow milk cheese from Berkshire, was baked in brioche with truffle and honey. This was warming comfort food, the melting cheese centre very nice, the bread cooked just a touch too long (14/20). Apple turnover with custard and vanilla ice cream was enjoyable, the apples having good acidity and the puff pastry nicely made (15/20). Coffee was the excellent Brazil Yellow Bourbon from Difference Coffee. Service was warm and friendly, with an excellent French waitress serving us. The bill came to £92 a head including service, which did not seem unreasonable given the amount of food that we ate and the high ingredient quality. The Dorchester Grill has a lot going for it, with an appealing menu, moderate prices given the setting, good ingredients and a genuinely skilful head chef.