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Sir David Tang’s homage to ’30s Shanghai (particularly the marvellous cocktail bar) is “a weird-but-interesting basement space that feels a bit dated now”, but is nevertheless “elegant beyond 99% of Chinese restaurants”. “The Peking duck especially is delicious”, but the food standards have long divided opinion here and prices give nothing away.
“Bog standard” Chinese fare (“no better than Chinatown but double the cost”) is served by “indifferent” staff at Sir David Tang’s “opulent and buzzy” Mayfair basement (whose top feature is its gorgeous, ’30s-Shanghai-style cocktail bar).
Fans of Sir David Tang’s ’30s-Shanghai Mayfair basement applaud the “wonderful” Art Deco ambience, and say the Peking duck in particular is “amazing”; critics, though, find the whole show monstrously “overrated”.
“There are dozens of oriental eateries better than this!” – David Tang’s “self-important” Mayfair hotel basement offers “bland” cooking at “top dollar” prices; the lavishly styled bar, though, is undoubtedly “great”.
China Tang, Dorchester Hotel W1
Grand hotels are supposed to be timeless and unchanging. Not the Dorchester, though, which always seems to be spending money like water, re-jigging and re-doing, in a never-ending quest for' well, who knows?
The hotel used to have the good-but-extremely-dull Chinese restaurant, The Dorchester Oriental, which closed last year. This is its replacement, but in a new site, in the basement, where the Dorchester Club - a sort of Annabel's that never quite made it - used to be.
The 'Tang' in the new venture comes from famed Hong Kong designer, David Tang (personally much in evidence on our visit). At the entrance, he's created a 'classic' Art Deco cocktail bar, which makes a knockout initial impression. You then pass by a luxurious suite of private dining rooms. After all this build-up, the dining room itself is a big let-down. If the lighting had been better, perhaps it wouldn't have felt just one step up from Chinatown. It doesn't help that the seats and banquettes are not especially comfortable.
The lunchtime menu is mainly dim sum, of a quality varying from good to very good. Dishes by their nature are not large, but the prices (typically £4-£10) are such that you could have a light lunch here quite reasonably. Beware, though. When we asked for a 'couple of extra dishes', the waiter - without asking if it was OK - raided the top end of the menu to bring us suckling pig (£16) and rather boring salt-baked chicken (£26). Including the 12.5% service, this puffed the bill up from around £130 for three (which would have been good value) to £180 (which wasn't).
As a dinner destination, you'd pay at least £60 a head for a meal we'd guess would be good, but a bit on the dull side. Now didn't the Dorchester used to have'
53 Park Ln, London, W1K 1QA
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lunch till 3 pm, Sun 4.30 pm, dinner 5.30 pm - 11.30 pm
Last orders: 11.45 pm