The Bar and The Grill at The Dorchester are a heady cocktail of the classic and the contemporary.
Photo: The Dorchester
The iconic Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane opened its glamorous doors in 1931 and 90 years on she is not showing her age.
As the Christmas lights started to twinkle in ever sparkling Mayfair, I passed through its famous Art Deco revolving doors to visit its elegant much-loved Bar and then experience the new menu that a talented young chef has brought to The Grill.
If the walls of The Bar at The Dorchester could talk they would tell hair raising tales of dancing on tables, dangerous liaisons, scandalous wheelings and dealings and celebrity secrets. And barman Giuliano Morandin, who has been there for 40 years, has seen it all.
But today he is concentrating on the here and now with a range of new cocktails that celebrate the hotels 90th anniversary as well as still perfecting the old classics.
Giuliano is a real legend of the London bar scene, and guests this November can enjoy the special off-menu anniversary Jade cocktail, as well as his signatures such as the Martinez and The Perfect Ten. Together with barmen (women) Lucia and Denise he has crafted them with the same love as always.
I sampled the rosy coloured The 90th, which celebrates the hotel’s anniversary and comprises plum and grapefruit sherbet, vintage port, the rare Forbidden Fruit liqueur, and The Dorchester’s own Old Tom Gin.
Jade is as precious as it sounds, a bright green champagne-based drink with gin and melon liqueur with a twist of melon dipped in pepper. Giuliano tells me that the pepper brings out the flavour of the fruit in this cocktail which has been served thousands of times in the bar.
Dorchester regular Alfred Hitchcock would have loved the cognac-based A Drink To Die For, named in his honour, and I can just imagine the curmudgeonly old film maker sitting in a armchair in a corner of the bar sipping it and no doubt using some of the characters for his next movie.
We moved into The Grill for dinner and stepped from the classic to the contemporary.
The grand revamped Grill room still has a fabulous 1930s ceiling but also features a dramatic twisting chandelier and stylish leather and wood decor. At the far end is the pudding bar, with modern glass shelves featuring plants, kitchen objects and driftwood.
But it is new chef on the block Tom Booton, the youngest head chef at The Grill at The Dorchester, who is making the real waves here. ‘Our personal interpretation of a modern-day British grill with signature dishes including homemade stout bread and The Grill’s lobster thermidor tart’ is how the new food is described.
Certainly the set menu is intriguing. To start we went with raw scallops for me and squid bolognese for my husband (sounds strange but tastes great).
I chose the sea bream with Delicia pumpkin as a main course which was not only pretty to look at but delicious, while my carnivore husband went for stuffed venison loin with beetroot ceps and cavolo Nero. Both dishes were beautifully presented with flavours that were surprising and satisfying.
We could have chosen herb crusted brill with mussels, leeks and potato Anna or Ribeye, stuffed potato, chive mayonnaise and girolles – all dishes which put a new spin on good British cooking. The waiters were super-attentive and described each dish perfectly and with genuine enthusiasm.
We were guided to some lovely wines by the sommelier, who suggests unusual wines to pair with the dishes, encouraging guests to move out of their wine comfort zone towards the unexpected, including Greek and orange wines. We finished with a coffee and cream soft serve with hazelnuts and Pedro Ximenez. Heavenly – and just a little bit Christmassy?
The Grill at The Dorchester has reinvented itself and while retaining its glamour and style, has a new modern twist with a playful vibe which is as fresh and exciting as one of Giuliano’s cocktails.
Opening Hours: The Grill: Wednesday to Saturday 12pm-2.15pm; 6pm-10pm; Sunday 12pm-4pm
The Bar: Tuesday to Saturday 12pm-12am
Address: The Dorchester, Park Lane, London W1K 1QA