Editor's note: chef Shay Cooper left in 2019 to move to Julie's. Richard Gialli took over as executive chef; he was previously head chef here.
The Goring Hotel in Victoria was built in 1910 by Otto Goring and is one of the few in central London that has remained family-run since its inception. The 69-room resdience has a large private garden and in 2013 became the only hotel to be granted a Royal Warrant for hospitality services. It is certainly very handy for Buckingham Palace. The dining room is carpeted and has widely spaced tables with comfortable chairs. There is no music, and noise levels were pleasingly muted, apart from the conversation of the remarkably loud Americans on the table next to us. The lighting was somewhat less gloomy than at my last visit, though it could still be improved.
Since October 2013 the Goring Hotel has a new head chef in the form of Shay Cooper, who previously had gained a Michelin star at The Bingham in Richmond in 2010 and 2011 (though this was lost in 2012). Prior to that he had worked at kitchens including Juniper in Altrincham, The Vineyard at Stockcross, Putney Bridge and as head chef at The Endlseigh Hotel in Devon.
The cooking style is classical, so you can have dishes such as beef Wellington and eggs Drumkilbo (a sort of seafood cocktail meets egg mayonnaise concoction). Three courses were £52.50, though there were some supplements depending on what you ordered.
The wine list was substantial, with around 500 labels listed, starting at £30. Examples include Schreckbichl Pint Grigio 2014 at £40 for a bottle that can be found in the high street for £17, Psi and Trimbach Cuvee Frederich Emile at £90 compared to a shop price of £38, and Pingus Psi 2010 £65 for a wine that retails at £23. At the posh end of the list, the sublime Guigal La Turque 2004 was £355 compared to a retail price of £152, and Lafite 1978 was £875 for a bottle with a current market price of £503.
Bread was made from scratch in the kitchen. Slices of white had good texture, though fig and raisin bread was rather dominated in flavour by the unannounced fennel seeds (14/20). Tomato salad came with goat cheese, black olive biscuit and basil oil. Such a dish lives or dies by the quality of its ingredients, and in truth the Isle of Wight tomatoes were rather ordinary. Great tomatoes need sustained sunshine, which is why the best specimens come from places like Sicily and the Amalfi Coast. The ones tonight were merely pleasant, the yellow cherry tomatoes better than the red, but these limited how good the dish could be (13/20). Better was egg Drumkilbo, named after a Scottish estate, the revamped version here involving king prawns and a mint jelly, egg and radish with mayonnaise and Oscietra caviar, a successful blend of flavours (14/20).
Beef Wellington was presented on a silvery tray, and served with celeriac puree, shallots and a cep croquette with red wine sauce. The beef fillet, which I believe was supplied by Mackens in Chiswick, was fine, but the pastry was rather soggy. The celeriac had nice flavour but the shallots were, not to put too fine a point on it, burnt, though I liked the intensity of the red wine sauce (14/20). On the side, sautéed potatoes were overcooked, though hispi cabbage was pleasant, as well it might be at £5 extra.
Broad bean risotto was topped with herbs and had good texture, though the stock used lacked much in the way of flavour intensity. Although nicely presented, the dish was lukewarm when it arrived (13/20 at best). A deconstructed Black Forest dessert was nice enough, with good cherry flavour (14/20). However the best dish of the night was a warm Eccles cake, which had lovely pastry and plenty of fruit currants, the spice flavour with it not too strong and the sugar nicely in balance (15/20). This was served with Stilton and a frisee lettuce salad.
Coffee was Musetti, a brand that I find varies dramatically when served in restaurants. Tonight it was rich and avoided any hint of being burnt, which happens all too often. It came with a pair of petit fours made from scratch in the kitchen. Service was genuinely impressive, the waiters timing the delivery of dishes carefully and being attentive without hovering. The bill came to £133 a head including drinks. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per head if you avoided supplements but including coffee would be around £90. This is quite a bit for the quality of what appeared on the plate. The Goring has a lot going for it: the smart decor, the appealing menu and the excellent service. Yet although ingredient quality was generally good it was not stellar, and the cooking tonight seemed capable rather than regal.Book
Further reviews: 16th Oct 2012