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As a general rule, heritage-themed restaurants (especially ones in hotels) are best given a miss.
So whoever decided to use the name 'Langtry's' for the new dining room of the Cadogan Hotel (after Lillie Langtry, who once lived here) needs a good talking to. It's not a name that inspires confidence, especially for a dining room which, though charming and well-located, has yet to shake off its hotel-y associations and establish itself as a destination in its own right.
Whoever chose the staff uniforms also needs to receive a few words. Presumably by dressing staff in shapeless, brown jackets they thought they were making a cool, perhaps retro statement to offset the potentially stuffy grandeur of these elegant Victorian chambers. But they just seem odd. The décor likewise has 'benefitted' from a few contemporary flourishes, but these are sufficiently low key so as not to detract from what is at heart a cosy and charming period space.
One useful feature of the uniforms is that they are sufficiently offbeat that they put you on notice that something funny is up: this is not just another hotel restaurant. The arrival of the menu with its quirky and determinedly British feel confirms this is a genuine stab at something different.
Our meal was not all hits, but there were highpoints, including a first class steak, and a wonderful haute version of Toad in the Hole with Crackling. Cauliflower soup with rarebit was interesting without having great depth of flavour. Bread and butter pudding was fine.
Excellent prices for somewhere just off Sloane Street, though, help quell any quibbles. My main gripe was the absence of some good bitters, ciders and perries to drink. With traditional British cuisine, the notion that wine is its only quality accompaniment may one day be as outmoded as the "heritage" styling this place tries so strenuously to avoid.
21 Pont St, London, SW1X 9SG
lunch noon - 2.30 pm, dinner 6 pm - 10.30 pm
Last orders: 10.30 pm