The Goring has an interesting history, a family owned hotel dating back to 1910 that served as the US Army headquarters in 1917. Its proximity to Buckingham Palace means that it has traditionally been popular with the aristocracy. The Goring Hotel launched a second restaurant in June 2019. The restaurant name refers to the sirens of Greek mythology, whose irresistible lure drew sailors on to the rocks. Nathan Outlaw is the executive chef, with Andrew Sawyer the person actually heading the kitchen. Andrew had formerly worked at the Capital Hotel with Nathan Outlaw, who was also in the restaurant this evening. The dining room is a conservatory, apparently being a multi-million pound affair to design and fit out. It is certainly very smart, with high ceilings and whole trees in the conservatory, which is carpeted so that noise levels are moderated. The restaurant is heavily seafood oriented with a display of whole fish, such as gurnard, plaice, mackerel and sardines being shown as you look at the menu. There were several whole fish options, mostly to share, as well as a tasting menu at £115 including a glass of Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle champagne, and also a full a la carte selection. The menu choices were very appealing, with plenty of attractive sounding options that were free of the eccentric flavour combinations that all too many chefs these days go for in order to show how clever they are. These were dishes that normal people actually want to eat.
The quite short sixty bottle wine list ranged from £34 to £2,900 in price, with labels such as the Cornish Camel Valley Bacchus Dry 2018 at £45 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £14, the excellent Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2018 at £70 compared to its retail price of £29, and the gorgeous dessert wine Vin de Constance 2015 at £109 for a wine that will set you back £65 in a shop. For those with the means, there were grander offerings such as Domaine Leflaive Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet 2006 at £590 compared to its retail price of £284, and Mouton Rothschild 2000 at £2,900 for a wine whose current market value is £2,192.
There were no canapés, but there was sourdough bread from the St John bakery. Crab risotto was made using aged carnaroli rice from Acquarello, and had very good texture. The rice had absorbed the stock nicely and was topped with fresh and delicately flavoured white crab meat (15/20). Lobster and pea tartlet was also enjoyable, the lobster tender and the pastry fine, though the mix of hot and cold in the dish was perhaps a little odd (14/20).
Whole monkfish came with a choice of tartare sauce and crab and tomato sauce with tarragon. Monkfish is a tricky fish to cook, as it is extremely easy to overcook, and even prestigious restaurants sometimes mess it up. However here the fish avoided the dreaded cardboard texture that all too often afflicts it when prepared by less skilled hands, and had good flavour. Both sauces were well made (15/20). On the side were a selection of buttered vegetables, including butternut squash, leeks, broccoli and fried kale. These were all nicely cooked (14/20). I also really liked a side dish of crisp potatoes with garlic mayonnaise and parsley. The agria potatoes had excellent flavour and were carefully cooked, the garlic mayonnaise excellent (16/20).
A wide range of ice creams and sorbets were available. When we asked how many scoops were available, we had the rather lovely answer “As many as will make you happy”. The sorbets that we tried, including chocolate and vanilla, all had very smooth texture. The only thing that let the dish down was a rather brittle tuile, that could just as easily have been left off (14/20). Better was a choux bun with raspberries and a chocolate sauce. The pastry had good texture and the flavour combination is a classic one (15/20).
Coffee was from a Bristol company called Extract and to be honest it wasn’t very good, over roasted to disguise the calibre of the beans used. It was not the worst coffee I have drunk but there is no excuse for coffee of this standard in a smart restaurant in London, where there is such a wide choice of speciality coffee suppliers these days.
Service was particularly impressive, the waiting staff being friendly, attentive and patient, with very careful drinks topping up. The bill came to £178 per person with a bottle of Hamilton Russell Chardonnay between us plus cocktails and a glass of dessert wine. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then a more typical cost per person might be around £120. Overall I enjoyed the meal at Siren and the overall package, with the smart setting and excellent service, goes some way to justifying the admittedly rather high prices. On this weekday evening the place was packed out.