Business Traveller reviews the new restaurant at the Montcalm hotel in Marble Arch, headed up by Andrew Ives, former head chef at Knebworth House.
What’s it like? Located just behind Oxford Street close to Marble Arch tube station, The Grill at the Montcalm opened last week within the five-star Montcalm hotel.
When I visited the hotel in March last year, the property had just reopened following an extensive refurbishment project (for the review click here). At this time a hotel spokesperson said that there were plans to open a restaurant in space adjacent to the lobby area, to add to the all-day dining offering that already existed.
A year and a half later and this restaurant has now come to fruition in the form of the Grill at the Montcalm. The restaurant has a separate entrance to the left of the main hotel entrance, and is a bright, modern space (the images provided here do not really do this justice), with large windows looking out onto a street at the back of the property.
There are a mixture of tables for two, larger group tables and circular booths, with cream leather chairs, white table tops and a light décor creating a warm effect, although the bright lighting may not be for those looking for privacy, and the ambient music was so generic that I questioned a couple of times if the same song had been played twice.
Grab a booth if you can, as these provide a certain amount of privacy while still affording a view of the rest of the restaurant. In the middle of the restaurant are two high tables surrounded by stools – they look good, but they tower over the rest of the tables even when unoccupied, and feel a little out of place with the other seating.
The food and service When we arrived at 7pm the restaurant was empty, although as the evening progressed around half a dozen couples and groups arrived, most of whom were dressed smart casual with hardly a suit in sight. Staff were young, but very friendly and eager to promote the dishes, and service was quick.
For our starters we had the cured seafood platter of beet marinated salmon, ceviche of scallops, and Japanese pickled seabass (£14.50), and the very tasty Rillette of Middle White pork, cornichon, house pickles and mustard, potato and rosemary tin, seeded crackers (£10.50).
Head chef Andrew Ives is previously of Kenbworth House, and has created a varied menu, although as with the newly-reopened Rib Room at the Jumeirah Carlton Towers (click here for a review), The Grill at the Montcalm focuses heavily on the carnivore, with its Church View English Angus Beef sourced from farms in the south west of England and matured for 21 days.
My guest had the sirloin (£24), and was impressed, both with the steak and the enormous knife he was given to eat it with, while I opted for the Grilled Romney Marsh lamb cutlets, brochette of devilled kidneys, warm liver parfait and grilled aubergine purée (£23). Like the steak, this was presented on a long wooden block, and the lamb was delicious – if I had a grumble it was that the overall dish was a little dry, and could have done with some sort of sauce, or perhaps a larger portion of the aubergine purée.
Pork and veal choices are also available, along with a Spatchcock corn-fed chicken dish for two (£45), Scottish lobster with orange and tarragon butter and chive new potatoes (£40), and three vegetarian dishes under the section “Alternatives”.
For dessert my guest had the Chocolate plate – a chocoholic’s dream consisting of a dark chocolate parfait, honey sable, white chocolate panna cotta, raspberry confit, and chocolate fondue with pistachio cream (£10). I had the Francis Coulson’s Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding with crème frâiche (£8.50) – very moreish, but the sticky toffee sauce could have been hotter.
Private dining There is a private dining room as you enter the restaurant on the left, with similar décor to the main room and seating between 12 and 20 guests.
Verdict A welcome addition to the hotel, with a strong selection of meat dishes. The lighting and décor will appeal to casual diners rather than those looking for an intimate dining experience.
Contact The Montcalm London, 34-40 Great Cumberland Place, Marble Arch, London; tel +44 (0)20 7958 3200; montcalm.co.uk