Every part of London seems to have its own distinct identity when it comes to its restaurants. If you want hearty brasseries with Ralph Lauren polo shirted clientele, head to Chelsea and Fulham, and if you’re in the mood for more experimental, rough and ready food with unusual ingredients, large parts of East are your friend. North is excellent for Japanese (don’t ask me why, it just is) and a lot of the pubs in South are peerless for nose-to-tail cooking.
But if you want a classy, discreet and thoroughly comfortable experience, Mayfair is the only real option. You know what you’re getting; top-notch service and peerless cooking (hopefully) in some of London’s most stylish settings. The only question is what’s on offer, and what level of excellence you can expect.
Thankfully, the Colony Grill, in the Beaumont Hotel, is setting a very high standard indeed. You know upon arrival that this is a place that is going to boast sophistication in its very DNA, and it does. The setting is one of just-so lighting, perfectly plumped banquettes and smoothly assured service. It would be impossible to come here and not feel pampered.
The menus are produced, and immediately it’s obvious what the raison d’etre is. There are many of the dishes that one might expect, but every one of them comes with an intriguing twist, courtesy of head chef Ben Boeynaems, himself an alumnus of the Goring and the Zetter Group.
There is a starter of carbonara, but it’s eel carbonara, and comes with an egg yolk on top. ‘Unctuous’ is an overused word, so let me replace it with ‘obsequious’. The dish oozes and insinuates and delights. And another appetiser of cured Orkney scallop comes carefully dissected on the plate, with waldorf salad and a green apple vinaigrette.
It’s very good indeed. None of this is cheap, but we are in Mayfair, so it’s to be expected. And then, starters merrily dispatched, it’s onto the steak. The Colony Grill has a reputation, a carefully curated and zealously guarded reputation, and it would be a mark of honour to see that it is upheld.
We’re not disappointed, thank heavens. My dining companion orders a rib-eye, and I order a New York strip, for variation. A smorgasbord of side orders are brought; whipped bearnaise, creamed spinach, café de Paris snails (such indulgence!) and, of course, crisp, perfectly cooked chips. A wine is called for, and the sommelier recommends a very fine Dolcetto d’Alba; there is some humour about whether it needs to be decanted or not, but because we are gentlemen of taste, or aspire to be, it is indeed decanted.
And then we savour some of the finest, best-cooked steak that we can remember eating, accompanied by all the treats and delights that we could wish for. It is a wonderful, happy occasion, and we feel indulged and pampered in the best of possible ways. Time goes past, but, for an hour or so, it stands still, and we are thrilled.
Dessert is a particular pleasure, too, consisting of a kind of DIY sundae. A pad and pencil are brought over, and one is able to assemble a delicious, bespoke confection with one’s favourite ice creams and toppings inside it. It’s a decadent delight, and also a happily retro treat. Which sums up the Colony Grill beautifully: it’s a thoroughly 21st century establishment, but one that nods to great 20th century traditions throughout. We had a superlative time here, and chances are that you shall, too. Glory awaits.
The Colony Grill at The Beaumont, Brown Hart Gardens, Mayfair, London W1K 6TF. For more information, including details of menus, and for bookings, please visit www.thebeaumont.com.