The Grill At The Dorchester, Park Lane

Well, if there isn’t a cost of living crisis and Lord Gravy has seen it suitable to go to possibly London’s most expensive Sunday roast – The Grill At The Dorchester.

Though it isn’t the only elephant in the room.

I mentioned on Twitter a few month’s ago that I’d possibly found London’s most expensive roast dinner – but one of my wise followers asked me if I knew who owned it.

I did a quick Google search, and advised her that it was Sir Robert McAlpine.

Following more prompting from my follower, Google was actually incorrect, and the hotel was bought by the Sultan of Brunei in 1985. It is currently owned by the Ministry of Finance of Brunei. Brunei recently brought in laws where two men caught having homosexual sex could be stoned to death.

For someone happy to be called woke – which by definition is being aware of injustice/racism in society (which apparently makes me a leftie tosser) – it did make me question whether I really could go there. But on the flip side, do I know the politics of the owners of all the other pubs/restaurants that I have frequented?

I decided to ask a very good friend of mine who is gay, whether he thought it acceptable that I reviewed The Grill At The Dorchester, explaining who the owner was, and his response was something like, “hmmm…but The Dorchester is bloody lovely…I’ll come with you”. Alas, he wasn’t available – but I had his approval and that was sufficient.

Scary rainbow bucket-hats

Besides, we are all happy to be consuming oil and gas from regimes with such anti-homosexual policies. Are we willing to go cold this winter or shall we just keep on buying gas from Qatar – itself hardly a bastion of gay rights?

Are we boycotting the Qatar World Cup? Did we boycott the Russian World Cup in 2018? Are we still all buying products from China, home to Uighar re-education camps?

If it’s good enough for Gary Lineker, then it is good enough for me.

If you ask me – and I appreciate that you didn’t (stick to what you know, ya tosser), major sporting events shouldn’t be held in countries without basic human rights, freedom for all, democracy and a lack of recent invasions of other countries. Yes, this means London should not have been able to host the 2012 Olympics, but also World Cups should not have been in Russia or Qatar either.

Decency towards your citizens should be rewarded. All citizens. Human rights should be universal.

And before you say anything – sport is political. Art is political. Music is political – I trust that the people who invite dance music festivals to Middle Eastern countries know about the origins of house music. What car you choose to buy is political. Whether you drive a car is political. What you buy from Amazon – or whether you buy from Amazon is political.

Even some fucking roast dinners are political. Apologies for the serious start, but I couldn’t exactly pass over this and pretend I didn’t know.

Scary rainbow chard

True story. I had my 18th birthday party at The Dorchester. I ended up handcuffed to a chair with a blow-up sheep on my lap.

The Dorchester Hotel.  In Hull.
Image via Dorchester Hotel

Oh, I should probably add that it was The Dorchester Hotel in Hull – which I don’t think is owned by the Ministry of Finance of Brunei.

Though it was posh enough to sell Britvic orange juice when you asked for a vodka and orange (the drink in 1998), unlike other places in Hull which would offer a double shot of undiluted orange cordial with a double vodka. Just let the thought of drinking vodka with undiluted orange cordial coarse down your throat.

Some people think that the world is going to hell, but my from experience it seems that the world is escaping Hull. Sorry, escaping hell.

Although, I suspect any of the guests seeing my plebness in The Dorchester (the proper one) may disagree that the world is improving. There was probably nobody else there from an estate…well…not the kind of estate I know anyway.

Chill out…I’m getting closer to talking about the food – and I have three damn courses to write about too

Scary rainbow watch straps

Amusingly, entrance was at the rear, for The Grill At The Dorchester.

We were welcomed by top-hatted and tail-coated gentlemen and shown towards the restaurant – there was a peachy vibe going on, almost a pastel campness to the corridor decoration.

Inside The Grill At The Dorchester, the restaurant decor didn’t scream opulence – it almost had more of Nigel Farage in Donald Trump’s lift vibes.

I was actually really looking forward to seeing what the toilets were like – however the toilets in our meeting point pub, The Audley, were far more opulent and stylish. Still significantly more upmarket and clean than your average Greene King pub toilets – but I expected wow and it wasn’t wow. Not quite as wow as I expected is a theme here.

The seats were slightly annoying – two of us were saw on a curved upright sofa-ish thing (I really am not an furniture specialist), which would occasionally move back a few centimetres whenever one of us moved.

And what the hell is this chandelier about? Whoever received probably a lot of money for selling that thing, is a genius.

Some Disgusting Chandelier At The Grill At The Dorchester
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That whole wall at the back looked naff too. They do say money doesn’t buy taste?

Granted I’m wannabe middle class and I’ve bought these shoes so…

My new pink shoes
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Scary rainbow flags

Anyway, I’m here to bang on about politics talk about food, so let’s crack on.

Gosh I’m going to be talking about stuff that doesn’t belong on a roast dinner, you must be thrilled.

Starter menu at The Grill At The Dorchester
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Somehow the waitress correctly predicted that I would want the lobster Scotch egg, along with my choice of main – am I that common? One of my accomplices ordered the prawns, to which the waitress asked if he realised that they’d come raw. He did realise (or so he said), and I’m glad that I didn’t have to face the embarrassment of not knowing this was a thing. Raw prawns…yikes. No, I’ve never been to Japan. Yes, I was due to go in 2020. Something happened. And they are still wearing masks even in parks in Japan.

Another accomplice ordered the beef tartare – and you can read about the process of making it (just 90 minutes long) here if you desire – though I’m sure you’d prefer to hear my latest thoughts on Elon “I love free speech as long as it isn’t too woke” Musk instead. He’s my new Brexit, isn’t he?

Lobster Scotch egg
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I doubt you could perfect this lobster Scotch egg any further – the soft crispness of the batter was melty-in-your-mouthy, the lobster pieces were quite delicately fishy, along with, I think, some onion.

I’m not really a fan of tartare sauce, albeit I’m judging it mostly from some sachets at a Hungry Horse pub in 2004, but again, this was divine – really rather creamy and herby – more depth of flavour than the Scotch egg itself and perhaps was the centre of attention when it came to flavour in this dish.

Did I do ok describing something other than carrots? And if you think I’m trying to be a serious food critic – I’m not, I’m just enjoying my life and having fun writing a load of shit.

Scary rainbow jumpers

Onto the part that I do know how to write about, normally using such developed adjectives as “nice”.

Sunday roast menu at The Grill At The Dorchester
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Two of us ordered the sirloin of beef, and one of my accomplices went rogue and ordered the glazed pigeon, of which I was exceptionally jealous.

Alas. I was on duty, and I could only have a Sunday roast. Not entirely sure what I would have done if they had said, “sorry we’ve stopped our Sunday roast menu” when we arrived. There was a £45 cancellation fee each. So I’d probably have stayed and just posted photos on The Twitter.

Starting with the most obvious item – the gravy boat. Is there anything more that I could want for Christmas?

And this is the point where you cannot see most of the food that I’m describing, but just bear with me. So the carrot was, erm, nice – I couldn’t tell whether it had been roasted or steamed – it was as flavoursome as you’d expect from a roasted carrot, but as smooth as a steamed carrot.

Likewise the parsnip, which you cannot see any of, and had a bit more bite to it than the carrot.

I’m probably going to have to rattle through the vegetables a bit – the leaf of cavelo nero (I think it is?) was gorgeous – verging on crispy yet buttery. Leaf Of The Year? The tenderstem broccoli was at the perfect balance of softness and crispness – with added crunch from the crispy onion pieces.

There was a tiny little pile of, I think, creamed leeks and cabbage – I could certainly taste the leek, along with I thought a hint of tarragon, though possible I imagined that. This was creamy deluxe levels of gorgeousness, and I wish there had been more. I didn’t need more.

There was too much red cabbage – for there is always too much red cabbage for me. Quite bitty, which is annoying as it does get everywhere – and infects the flavour of other items around – though there wasn’t enough gravy to infect, of course. Aside from that, it was rather fruity, with what appeared to be tiny grapes.

Finally, for the vegetables – at which I assume is a Roast Dinners In London record of 9 varieties, the cauliflower cheese was every bit as sexy as it looks. Why didn’t I asked which cheese they used? Almost a crème brulee in appearance, there seemed to be cauliflower puree to thicken up the sauce – I actually thought there was potato of mashed variety at first, though on scavenging the remainer (obviously I mean remainder but this mistake amused me), I decided against.

Scary rainbow scarves

Gosh that was a lot of writing, and I haven’t even had the opportunity to moan about roast potatoes yet.

Beef Sunday roast at The Grill At The Dorchester
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And yes, I am going to moan about them. Flavour-wise you could commend them, they had more depth of flavour than your average spud – however they were dry inside. Almost greying on the outside in a couple of spots, not crispy either. Yep, even The Grill At The Dorchester cannot do decent roast potatoes. Even eighty fucking pounds doesn’t get you proper roast potatoes in London.

The Yorkshire pudding had a wonderful shape to it – yet it was a little overcooked, and also rather dry and tearable in texture.

Thankfully, the beef sirloin mostly made up for it. Beef with fat that was actually rendered this time, evidence of a little browning of the outside, quite a salty flavour and texture to it, and cooked on the rare side. This was the business.

Even better, there was a little hidden pile of…forgotten the word I’m looking for…like pulled pork but pulled beef. Hmmm. Kind of like a beef shin ragu, in terms of flavour and look. A teasing, tiny, terribly delightful surprise.

And finally…for the main course…for my main course anyway, we have gravy. Oh gravy. You may be surprised to know that The Grill At The Dorchester (such a mouthful but they have a few restaurants and I need to keep Google happy) supply gravy instead of jus. Actual gravy. Not huge amounts and I didn’t dare ask for extra, but meaty gravy nonetheless.

Scary rainbow…ice…cream?

Jeez this is getting nearly as long as one of those end of year awards posts that I normally finish writing the next summer. Thank fuck I’ve run out of politics.

Dessert menu at The Grill At The Dorchester
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This was the only point at which the service let us down a tad – they were proper on it for our starter and mains, along with topping our wine glasses up – but we had to ask them around 30-40 minutes after clearing our plates for a dessert menu. Or maybe we are just impatient middle-class wannabes?

We all chose differently – one accomplice ordered the cheese tartlet, one ordered the cheese board at a £10 supplement, and I ordered the mince pie – mostly because I’d had a box of Tesco Finest mince pies the other day and they were shite, so I wanted to rekindle my love for a good mince pie.

Oh, and yeah, three courses was £80, as you can now see. £5 more than when they last updated their website. Don’t worry, Bank Of England has inflation under control. Everything is under control.

Mince pie soft serve
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Have I ever mentioned that I don’t really like ice cream?

And guess who hadn’t connected the dots between “mince pie” and “soft serve”.

However, I had a bite and I was like, “well maybe I do like ice cream now”. One of my accomplices described it better than I will attempt – as like “a girl doing deep throat”.

Scary rainbow hotpants

I don’t really know where to start with this delight – the ice cream wasn’t too cold, it was softened a little (clue possibly in the name?), it tasted supremely of mince pie – overwhelmingly of mince pie, and delightfully juxtaposed with the crumbly, buttery shortbread stars and the slightly devilish raisins, which were apparently soaked in whiskey and I can well believe that.

The very final mouthfuls took quite a while – but I feel that is the mark of a good 3 course meal. I’d reached the point of being full yet not stuffed full – I couldn’t eat any more but I also couldn’t leave that last mouthful of soft serve. It was happening…slowly.

My accomplice who ordered the cheese board was at first, “is that it” when it arrived but then was full of praise for some of the best cheese he’d ever eaten.

I did try a tiny bit, but it was lost on me as all I could taste was mince pie.

I’m getting bored of writing this – so I only wonder what you are feeling right now. Gosh, imagine if I tried to review one of those posh 28 course mini things in foam meals.

Now, I said that this is probably the most expensive roast dinner in London, at least that I know of. However, it isn’t easy to separate out – £80 is for three courses. I’m not sure whether there is a main’s only option – I didn’t dare ask. I’d hazard a guess that somewhere between £50 and £60 of this, is the relative portion for the roast dinner itself. Plus 15% service charge and a £1 charity donation.

Man in rainbow hotpants
Available to buy from here

Scary rainbow scores

So I guess I need to score this. My accomplice who had the pigeon, scored his whole meal an 8.80 – if he was forgetting how much it cost. Taking money into account, he scored it an 8.00.

My roast dinner eating accomplice scored it an 8.72 – though I’m not too sure whether that is for the roast dinner, or the whole 3 course meal, or taking into account the whole experience. We were far too deep in a rather excellent “keep politics out of sport/sport is political” debate – isn’t it much better when you have friends that you can disagree on things with?

Not everything, mind.

I am finding it hard to score. The starter and dessert were particularly impressive – the latter being one of the best things I’ve eaten this year, probably because it challenged my assumptions of what I wasn’t previously keen on, and blew them out of the water. If I was scoring on desserts only, it would be in the 9’s.

However, this is a roast dinner blog, and to keep the comparison with everyone else, the score will be judged on the roast dinner alone – the ouchie price and the excellent starter/dessert probably balance each other’s effects out anyway.

I cannot be anything other than impressed that they managed to serve 9 different vegetables, almost all of which were impressive – especially the creamy leeks and the cauliflower cheese. Along with the unimprovable tenderstem broccoli.

But those roasties – hardly top quality, and the yorkie was dry and too crispy also. Both pretty much in the bang averageness of many London pubs…though still edible. The beef, whilst excellent, wasn’t particularly a cut above much I’ve had elsewhere – that shouldn’t sound so negative, but maybe you could argue that I should have been wowed for the price.

Hang on…too much text, need to break it up…with zero apologies to the Sultan bloke.

Image via Steven Damron under license CC BY 2.0 DEED

Then again…that gravy boat of pure desire. And the gravy was actually proper. Oh and the delightful beef shin ragu hidden surprise (or whatever it really was).

After much consideration, I’m scoring the roast dinner at The Grill At The Dorchester a 7.80 out of 10. There’s plenty of excellent, especially with the vegetables – but I cannot score it higher than an 8 with those roasties. If everything was on the level of the vegetables, beef and gravy – then it would be high 8’s.

Anything else? Well, the beer was £10 a fucking bottle. Sigh. And it was Meantime – lols. There was an extensive expensive wine list – we predictably bought the cheapest bottle at £45 which was kind of smooth, but I’m not entirely sure it was that much better than a £7 bottle at Tesco. Then again, I’m from Hull, so maybe judge me more.

Apart from forgetting to take our dessert order, service was very good – though nothing more than you might expect for the price. That does come into my thinking quite a bit when thinking about The Grill At The Dorchester – very good, but nothing beyond what you’d expect for the price.

The only thing left to mention is that if you happen to be the Sultan Of Brunei, please consider not sending homosexuals to jail.

Next week…don’t ask…England playing football make it rather tricky logistics. It will be somewhere cheaper than The Grill At The Dorchester though. Everywhere will be cheaper than The Grill At The Dorchester…until next year, anyway.

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The Grill At The Dorchester, Park Lane

Station: Bond Street

Tube Lines: Central, Elizabeth, Jubilee

Fare Zone: Zone 1

Price: £80 (3 courses)

Rating: 7.80

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Loved & Loathed

Loved: 9 different vegetables - impressive effort and skill gone into the roast. Beef excellent and (limited) gravy thick.

Loathed: £80 and they still cannot roast potatoes properly. Yorkie dry and décor is a bit like Trump's gold lift.

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