In the airy space that was once Apsleys and then Celeste is the latest restaurant incarnation here, the Lanesborough Grill, which opened in April 2022. Heading the kitchen is Shay Cooper, who earned a Michelin star at The Bingham and The Goring. The menu was a la carte, with eight choices of starter and eight mains, plus four desserts. The dishes were individually priced, with starters mostly around £18, mains from £32 to £58, side dishes £8 and desserts about £14.
The wine list had 489 labels and ranged in price from £38 to £21,405, with a median price of £130. The average markup to retail price (based on a large sample of the list) was 3.8 times, which is high even by the demanding standards of Belgravia. Fully 16% of the list was sparkling, perhaps catering to the kind of audience that might be celebrating a new business deal here. There was quite broad global coverage, with wines from as far afield as Slovenia, Syria and China and even half a dozen non-sparkling options from England. If you want an orange wine from Georgia or a red wine from Canada then this list has you covered. Sample references were Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2021 at £55 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £16, J.M. Burgaud Cote du Py Morgon 2020 at £78 compared to its retail price of £23, and Bannockburn Riesling Felton Road 2014 at £85 for a wine that will set you back £19 in the high street. For those with the means there was Cuvee Frederich Emile Trimbach Riesling 2009 at £260 compared to its retail price of £56, and Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape 2009 at £300 for a wine whose current market value is £108. This was a well thought-out list, but not for those on a budget.
Sourdough bread was made from scratch in the kitchen and apparently had a touch of marmite in it, yet this quite distinctive ingredient was in sufficiently small traces that I would have missed it entirely if I hadn’t been told about it. The bread itself had reasonable texture, though I have had better sourdough in my time. A starter of buttermilk fried quail with mushrooms and spring onion had nicely cooked quail with good flavour, the coating crisp, the mushrooms going nicely with the bird, and a creamy sauce with chopped chives balanced by the gentle bite of the onion (15/20). Even better was coronation crab salad with curry and lime sabayon. This was prettily presented, and the fresh crab had excellent natural sweetness, its flavour complemented by the subtle curry sauce, a textural contrast being provided by a tuile (16/20).
We had an intermediate course of raw Orkney scallops with Marinda tomato, toasted hazelnuts and smoked rapeseed oil. The scallops had lovely sweetness and I was impressed with the flavour of the tomatoes, which are grown in Sicily, while the hazelnuts added an extra texture (15/20). Cotswold white chicken breast was topped with black garlic, cauliflower cheese puree and a pool of gravy from roast chicken. The meat was cooked nicely and the cauliflower was a good complement to the bird. I would be interested to see how this dish would work with an even better chicken such as one from Landes, but the focus of the kitchen here is on British produce (just about 15/20). Dover sole was grilled, served whole at the table and served simply. The fish was fine and was correctly cooked, though it is hard to make such a simple dish really shine unless you get an exceptional piece of fish. For me a little more seasoning would have been beneficial (14/20). On the side, buttered spinach with garlic and chilli seemed a little watery and could have done with more bite from the rather tentative use of chilli. On the other hand, hash brown potatoes with Rachel goat milk cheese were excellent, with a crisp outside and plenty of flavour, just lacking a little salt.
Lemon tart was more a lemon meringue that was topped with candied citrus and shards of Earl Grey tea meringue. The lemon flavour was nicely balanced by the meringue, and the candied citrus added an interesting additional flavour (15/20). Even better was almond Manjari chocolate “brownie” with vanilla cream and pistachio ice cream. Manjari is a 64% single origin chocolate from Madagascar and its slightly acidic flavour worked to great effect with the biscuit base, nicely complemented by the pistachio and vanilla. This was a lovely, classic chocolate dessert (16/20). Coffee was Illy and there were some good petit fours, including one made to resemble a tennis ball, to coincide with the Wimbledon tennis that was going on at the time of our visit. Service was friendly and drinks topping up generally fine.
The bill came to £156 per person. If you shared a bottle of modest wine then a typical cost per person might come to around £120 for three courses and coffee. This was certainly an enjoyable meal, with some capable cooking and some interesting touches on the appealing menu. The bill was quite high, but this is a five-star hotel in Belgravia, so was hardly likely to be a bargain. There were one or two things that could be tweaked but this was a very pleasant experience.