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Harden's survey result
“Excellent, but expensive” – the late Sir David Tang’s stunning take on Art Deco-era Shanghai has always had vertiginous pricing, but its dependable cooking and “buzzy vibe” have silenced its sterner critics over the years, and the worst anyone has to say about it this year is that it’s “good but not spectacular”. Set in the basement of the Dorchester Hotel and newly refurbished in early 2019, arguably its best feature is its “wonderful cocktail list” and beguiling small bar.
Modelled after 1930s Shanghai by the late Sir David Tang, this opulent and gorgeous-looking Mayfair basement perennially seemed “expensive for what it is” in the food department. Scores have improved across the board in the past couple of years though, and it’s winning more consistent praise for “excellent” cuisine (Peking duck the speciality) and gluggable cocktails.
The “classy cocktail bar” is a big highlight of Sir David Tang’s (RIP) recreation of ’30s Shanghai in the basement of a Mayfair hotel, whose main dining room surprisingly can “lack atmosphere”, particularly at lunch. The food (with Peking Duck the speciality) has been lacklustre over the years, but was very highly rated in this year’s survey.
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.
|Wine per bottle||£32.00|
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
|Monday||12 pm‑4:30 pm, 6 pm‑11:30 pm|
|Tuesday||12 pm‑4:30 pm, 6 pm‑11:30 pm|
|Wednesday||12 pm‑4:30 pm, 6 pm‑11:30 pm|
|Thursday||12 pm‑4:30 pm, 6 pm‑11:30 pm|
|Friday||12 pm‑4:30 pm, 6 pm‑11:30 pm|
|Saturday||12 pm‑4:30 pm, 6 pm‑11:30 pm|
|Sunday||12 pm‑4:30 pm, 6 pm‑11:30 pm|