Grandly housed in the hotel adjacent to Victoria Station, this Cantonese dining room offers airy surroundings and good-value dim sum (and lunch) menus, making it an ideal daytime rendezvous; by night, it looks set to appeal particularly to the business market.
Thanks to the re-launch of St Pancras, railway station hotel refurbishment is rather topical at the moment. We all now know such that grand Victorian buildings can rise magnificently again. It does seem, though, that you need to spend, spend, spend – over £150m in that case – to achieve really impressive results.
On the other side of central London, and with less fanfare, Guoman hotels are busy updating the hotel adjacent to Victoria Station. Built in 1861, their budget – probably very reasonable, from a business point of view – is a little more than a tenth of what’s been spent on St Pancras.
The problem, of course is that, Victorian rooms are so vast that they do require the spending of prodigious amounts of money to achieve a real impact. How much would it cost, for example, to bring the ventilation system here up to best modern standards? A quarter of a million pounds?
We absolutely understand the economics constraints, but the system – thrumming away somewhat disconcertingly on the day of our visit – contributes to a slightly municipal air that – despite the bright contemorary touches – has still not entirely been shaken off.
Until recently, the rooms traded under the banner of the lacklustre Chez Gérard steakhouse chain. For the relaunch, the management have turned to another chain, if not one yet known in this country, Grand Imperial. Founded only in 2008, this claims to be ‘Malaysia’s leading company in the food and beverage industry’. The London opening, it seems from discussions with the friendly and helpful staff, is intended as a bridgehead to the West.
The culinary style here in London, as it is throughout the group, is Cantonese (here with something of a seafood emphasis). Sadly, our visit did not allow an extensive sampling of the menu, but one thing is clear: dim sum are very good.
So, if you are looking for a light lunch down this end of Belgravia (for that is technically where you are), look no further. At lunchtime they do a number of good ‘deals’ too – either just dim sum, or dim sum as part of a somewhat longer menu.
By contrast the non-dim sum dishes we sampled seemed relatively ordinary. It was early days, though, and we sampled only a small fraction of the menu.
In the evening, we suspect that it’s for the business market that this large and undoubtedly well-spaced room is of most interest. If you’re looking for a venue for a convenient convergence point for delegates from points as various as, say, Knightsbridge, Mayfair and Gatwick, you could really do very much worse. And it you’re looking for a private dining room of ambassadorial proportions, this would seem to a a venue well worth knowing about.