The large dining room hung with chandeliers and gilt-framed paintings belonging to the newly launched English Grill in Victoria, is delightfully Edwardian. Plush wing armchairs, friendly tail-coated waiters and immaculate table linens confirm the impression of 1st class dining on board an ocean liner or a gentleman’s club on Pall Mall, while generous leather booths, popular with couples, not only add intimacy within the grand space but help to bring it into the 21st century, as does the shiny new open kitchen featuring a state-of-the-art Josper grill.
The English Grill is the pride and joy of the newly refurbished Rubens at the Palace Hotel (part of the Red Carnation Collection), but unlike so many hotel dining rooms, it’s well worth venturing to as a stand-alone dining experience, for it has to be one of the best new restaurants in London. It’s also inevitably going to be an in-demand Sunday lunch venue due to the sublime beef on offer and the attentive, yet humorously informal front of house team, brilliantly adept at putting families and four-legged friends at ease.
Luxury is very much the word here, enhanced by the fact that the restaurant’s food suppliers are also those serving the hotel’s close neighbours, the royal household at Buckingham Palace, a selection you won’t find anywhere else. The fail-safe menu features H. Forman ‘London Cure’ smoked salmon sliced table side, an elegant take on the retro prawn and crayfish cocktail, and one of my favourite starters of all time, omelette Arnold Bennett – beautifully presented in a copper pan and crammed with sweet, perfectly cooked lobster beneath an enticing golden top.
The à la carte menu has daily specials including both a pie of the day and roast of the day, from a tantalising beef wellington (sold out on our visit) to Aubrey Allen’s roast rib of beef with Yorkshire pudding and a red wine jus on Sundays. But husband and I were both keen to sample the delights of the Josper, on which my regal 18oz Dover Sole was grilled to perfection before being filleted table-side as skilfully as I have ever seen, while Mr L couldn’t resist the signature Aubrey Allen tomahawk steak, the flavours of which were considerably enhanced due to being prepared over charcoal, making the meat so divinely flavoursome as to barely require one of the many sauces or butters. If you still don’t know what to get dad for Christmas, why not get him a slap-up tomahawk steak here? Gift vouchers available.
A grill this good demands a fine wine and the extensive list boasts some excellent vintages and the highly regarded Bouchard Finlayson wines, the vineyard of the South African owners, their 2015 Hannibal (a complex blend of Sangiovese, Pinot noir, Shiraz, Nebbiolo, Mourvédre and Barbera), being an ideal and highly apt choice for my bloodthirsty, South African beef-eating spouse. With 16 months in French oak barrels, Hannibal is justifiably likened to having the elegance of a ballet dancer and the balance of a martial arts expert.
If you’re lucky enough to be a resident of Rubens at the Palace, you are guaranteed an equally memorable breakfast at The English Grill (that’s if you still have an appetite), with a generous continental buffet a pleasing focal point come the morning, alongside a la carte choices prepared to order, from buttermilk waffles and pancakes to a full English (it is the English Grill after all) featuring bacon, Cumberland sausages and Mangalitza black pudding fit for royalty. And yes, you guessed it, there’s even a Josper Grilled sirloin steak with or without free range eggs from Berkshire. Even our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who was invited to join us in our booth, had her own place laid and a royal pet menu to choose from. Quite aside from the marvellous food, this restaurant is very special.
The English Grill at The Rubens at The Palace is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For more information and to make a reservation please visit the website.