Open since 1931, when the luxury Mayfair hotel was founded, the Grill at the Dorchester reopened in November following a six-month closure for a full revamp.
Both the interiors and the menu have been reinvented – the former by Bruno Moinard, the latter by head chef Christophe Marleix. Marleix is a protégé of Alain Ducasse, whose restaurant in the Dorchester has three Michelin stars, and who is providing "culinary guidance" to the Grill.
The aim of the refurbishment was to create a more relaxed venue for dining, something of a trend among many of London’s high-end establishments at the moment.
Still, this is a very smart, glamorous space. All but the room's opulent ceiling and doors has been stripped out, although their golden detailing has informed the new design – zinc and copper are among the materials used, shiny pots and pans are on display behind the open rotisserie along one wall, and glowing lamps line the bar, while the centrepiece is an extravagant amber-coloured Murano glass chandelier.
Even the water glasses on the linen-dressed tables are amber-hued. Butterscotch leather chairs, oak parquet flooring and wall panels that pivot by day and night complete the look.
There was a pleasantly buzzy atmosphere on the midweek evening I dined, and the staff, decked out in aprons, waistcoats or jackets, were friendly and attentive.
Our meal began with a welcome aperitif of champagne, served in attractive hollow-stemmed glasses, and an amuse bouche of lightly tangy salmon and cheese with crackers.
To start, I tried the signature blue lobster chowder with mushroom and chive (£17), which was heavenly. Lobster medallions, sautéed mushrooms, confit potatoes and spinach and parsley puree were arranged artfully in the centre of the bowl, topped with a quenelle of slightly citrussy whipped cream and chopped chives, with the bisque itself – sweet and subtle with a real depth of flavour – poured in at the table. It was so lip-smacking, I couldn't help mopping up the remainder with the warm stilton bread I had been offered.
My companion had an expertly cooked Westcombe cheddar farmhouse soufflé (£12), with the rich yet subtle cheddar sauce again poured over generously by the waiter. We were impressed with the flourish with which our starters were served by the pair of waiters, who explained and then finished off each dish one after the other.
The main menu includes the likes of black-leg free-range chicken, veal chop, beef tournedos and whole Dover sole.
We opted for the pepper organic Aberdeen Angus prime rib for two (£34 per person). It was wonderful – a succulent, tender, perfectly pink piece of meat on the bone, carved at our table on a gleaming platter, with the waiter asking if we’d like the fat removed or left on. It came with a smoky peppercorn sauce, and we ordered crunchy, fluffy French fries, moreish macaroni au gratin and a fine, if unspectacular, side of spinach to go with it.
To accompany, we chose a lightly spicy Rioja – Olivier Riviere Rayos Uva 2013 (£40) – the list is particularly strong on French labels.
Full at this stage, and yet unwilling to miss out on one of the Grill's range of signature sweet soufflés, I opted for the Sicilian pistachio and salted caramel (£14) for dessert. It was decadent yet light, the melted caramel inside a delightful surprise, the accompanying ice cream silky and perfectly salted.
My companion had the lemon tart "our way" (£13) – "our way" being more of a lemon meringue than a tart – and said it was incredibly refreshing; a good balance of sweet and sharpness. A palate cleanser of tart lemon jelly and a rich single espresso finished off a fabulous meal.
Faultless food in a splendid setting, the reinvented Grill is a resounding success.
- OPENING HOURS 7am-10.30am (7.30am weekends); 12pm-2pm (12.30pm-2.30pm weekends); 6.30pm-10.30pm (10pm Sun)
- PRICE Starters £12-£19; mains £13-£52; dessert £13-£14; sides £6
- CONTACT The Grill at the Dorchester, Park Lane; tel +44 (0)20 7317 6531; dorchestercollection.com