This was my third meal at the Dorchester Grill since Tom Booton took over as head chef. Tom was formerly head chef of Alyn Williams at The Westbury and also trained at l’Autre Pied, as well as having worked in the USA, Copenhagen and even Iceland. The dining room is on the right of the corridor that divides the main part of the ground floor, almost opposite the Alain Ducasse restaurant. Although it lacks natural light the décor has improved drastically since the days when the walls were covered with vast murals of Highlanders in their costume, which something clearly thought was a good plan at the time.
You could choose three courses for £50 from the set menu or for £75 a la carte. Our meal began with a lovely canape of chicken liver parfait with pear chutney covered with foie gras snow. This is a terrific dish, with the acidity of the pear balancing the richness of the liver, and the snow adding an interesting texture (17/20). Beef tartare was very pretty and the beef flavour was good, but it was oddly light in seasoning. Some more pepper in particular would have improved this significantly (barely 15/20).
We next tried brill with herb crust along with mussels and confit leek on a base of potato. This was very good, the brill carefully cooked and the accompaniments working nicely with the meaty taste of the brill, a fish that somewhat resembles turbot in flavour (15/20). Veal sweetbread had light texture and excellent flavour, served on a base of celeriac risotto. The celery flavour was a nice contrast to the richness of the sweetbreads, and the dish was completed by trompette mushrooms and tarragon and a rich sauce of the cooking juices. This was a very well composed and executed dish (17/20).
Lobster thermidor tart is a modern take on lobster thermidor, which involves a creamy sauce spiked with cognac. The original dish originated in Paris in 1894 at a restaurant called Maire, and named after the play “Thermidor” that was running at the time. Here the lightly cooked lobster tail was presented on top of a tart with a rich wine-based sauce, along with a further seafood bisque. The lobster was tender and the rich sauce worked nicely with the shellfish (16/20). Some balance was provided by a very good potato boulangere on the side served in a cast iron pot, the potatoes having good texture and the onions nicely caramelised.
Pre-dessert was, intriguingly, an artichoke ice cream. This idea would normally set more alarm bells ringing in my head than a lump of loose plutonium at a nuclear plant, but it was actually fine. It came with a lemon and yoghurt foam and both fresh and pickled grapes. The artichoke flavour was very subtle and the grapes and lemon provide good acidity (15/20). The meal was completed with an excellent coffee dessert, this one involving soft serve ice cream, hazelnuts and Pedro Ximenes ice cream, and used excellent Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, which added a touch of class (17/20).
Service was friendly, though I did have a little trouble understanding the accent of our waitress (not helped of course by the very necessary mask being worn), who nonetheless was very patient. I was being taken here by a friend so did not see the bill, but as I mentioned in the introduction the food here is surprisingly inexpensive given the Mayfair hotel location. The Dorchester Grill is in excellent hands with its young head chef, and some of the dishes here are very good indeed.