Dorchester Grill, Dorchester Hotel W1
REVIEWS, November 29, 2005
Overall Value
out of 5
  • Food
  • Service
  • Ambience
Dorchester Grill, Dorchester Hotel, 53 Park Lane, London, W1K 1QA

As an act of witless cultural vandalism, the Dorchester’s Grill’s new look takes some beating. Out goes the characterful Spanish Baronial styling of 70 years’ standing. In comes a riot of Tartan High Camp that would not disgrace a Marriott in a Scottish golf resort. Dr Johnson’s observation – ‘The noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees, is the high road that leads him to England!’ – may have been a reaction to horrors such as these.

And it gets worse. The food – previously a bastion of grand traditional Anglo-French fare – has become tedious and expensive. Frenchman Ollie Couillard helped establish a formidable reputation for La Trompette. But what is excellent in Chiswick at £45 / head is disappointing in Mayfair at half as much again. When it comes to English traditional fare, Monsieur C loses his way completely. A set lunch, for example, comprised a tepid brandade, an indifferent plate of roast beef (from the trolley), and an insipid, over-fancy apple crumble (with cream!). Desserts are no better from the carte: the sticky toffee pudding is no better than at any respectable gastropub, but costs a whacking £10.50.

Service – formerly a textbook combination of efficiency, old-fashioned style and easy charm – has been made ‘modern’, matey and sloppy. You should not have to cast about to find a waiter’s eye in the half-full dining room of a five-star hotel. Nor should you have to re-scan the bill because – although it is stated that 12.5% has been added for service – no service charge line actually appears. It is especially important for an establishment to be clear about such things when a blank space on the credit card slip invites you to tip again – not, oddly, an invitation we felt it necessary to take up.

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