As a Londoner it wouldn’t even cross my mind to visit a hotel restaurant for a dinner date night. Silly as this may seem, I tend to associate London hotels with tourists- but as a city native I now realise that I am missing out on many fantastic luxury dining opportunities. Sometimes you need to take a step back and view the place in which you live in another way. So with this in mind we arranged a date night at Victoria’s newest luxury dining experience, The English Grill at The Rubens at the Palace.
On arrival we were greeted by two incredibly polite and helpful doormen and at that point I realised that it was going to be a fabulous evening. After all, only the best places have doormen! We had arranged to have cocktails in the Cavalry Bar before dinner so the doormen pointed us in the right direction. The first thing that struck us about the Cavalry Bar was the scarlet red décor, the luxurious velvet seating and the elaborately framed pictures depicting incredibly British scenes of men on horseback and royal castles. The room itself was beautifully regal which I suppose is rather befitting to the proximity to Buckingham Palace. After settling into our corner seats we were presented with the drinks menu along with a plate of delicious nibbles to keep us going until the ‘main event’. It must be mentioned that the staff looked wonderfully dapper in their waistcoats and dickie bows which just added to the regal ambience all the more. We scanned the drinks menu and placed our order with the waiter. The extensive bar menu includes a wide selection of beers, wines and spirits, including Lanson Champagne, or a warming Inverarity ten year old single malt whisky (bottled especially for The Rubens in Speyside, Scotland). The menu made it difficult to decide however we settled on 2 cocktails; the Paradisi Gin Fizz and the Whiskey Sour. Just as we were about to finish up with our cocktails a live band started to play so we lingered around in The Cavalry Bar a little longer.
The English Grill is just as decadent as The Cavalry Bar with its brasserie-style leather booths, velvet wing-back dining chairs, chandeliers and linen draped tables. It really is rather beautiful and fabulously classy so we did feel a little under-dressed! However the tail-coated waiters were incredibly reassuring as they led us to our booth. As we were browsing the delectable menu we were brought a variety of warm bread rolls to the table along with a wonderful selection of herbed butters, crudite vegetables and mayonnaise. The Sommelier approached the table to introduce himself which we thought was a lovely touch. As we placed our orders with the waitress we couldn’t help but further admire the elegant room in which we were dining and as an added bonus, the chef’s kitchen was glass fronted so we could watch them working away. If you are looking for an impressive date night restaurant to blow the socks off your date then The English Grill should be on your list. The restaurant embraces the best of English tradition, design and flavours. The attentive staff explained that the menu is designed around premium seasonal ingredients that are locally sourced from the highest quality English suppliers, including meats from Aubrey Allen, Royal Warrant holder to Her Majesty The Queen.
After a recommendation from our waitress I opted to try the Avocado Burrata Toast whilst my date decided to sample the Chicken Liver Parfait with Toasted Brioche. Each dish looked and smelt so appetising that we ended up sharing both of them. The Avocado Burrata on Toast was creamy, rich and exactly as we had hoped it would taste. The combination of the ripe avocado with the velvety Burrata is a match made in heaven. The Chicken Liver Parfait was smooth and packed full of flavour; it could possibly be one of nicest we have ever tried. Brioche is always a winner and to pair it with this particular parfait really hit the spot. To top it off the Sommelier tailored a Flight of Wine to match our dinner choices; one with each course. Fine wine is an integral part of The Rubens at the Palace hotel experience and they make sure to fill their wine list with fine vintages from around the world. Foremost among these are the wines from The Rubens’ celebrated sister vineyard Bouchard Finlayson, makers of some of South Africa’s most distinguished wines. Our flight of wine was entirely made up of the award winning Bouchard Finlayson bottles and our Sommelier kindly talked us through each one as he served them. With our starters we sampled the delicious Missionvale Chardonnay with its crisp and nutty like character and the bright and fruity Sans Barrique Chardonnay.
As we waited for the main courses to arrive the Sommelier matched our wines to our meal choices. A glass of the Hannibal red was selected for my date to pair with his selection of Beef Wellington which was suggested by the waitress. The Beef Wellington was part of the ‘Roasts’ which change daily and include belly of slow roasted pork with crackling and apple sauce; and salmon en croute, locally sourced from Billingsgate Fish Market and served with creamed spinach and Champagne butter sauce. A ginormous Beef Wellington arrived rather theatrically on a bespoke silver trolley and was expertly carved and served onto the plate along with creamed onions and Madeira jus- scrumptious. I opted to try the Citrus Grilled Chicken which arrived on a bed of crisp rocket and parmesan. The side dishes also looked so tantalising that we couldn’t help but order the triple cooked chips and creamed spinach. With eyes bigger than our bellies we tucked into our regal feast. Each and every dish was outstanding in quality and the freshness of the ingredients was evident on the palette. After devouring our mains we remembered that we hadn’t left room for dessert! Rookie error when dining somewhere so delicious. We settled on sharing the Lemon Tart with clotted cream as we thought we may be able to manage half each. It came so beautifully presented with edible flowers and delicately places raspberries that we almost forgot how full we were. The tartness of the lemon was balanced out perfectly by the rich clotted creaminess and we left savouring the taste on our tongues.
After such a fantastic evening of food at The English Grill at The Rubens we couldn’t recommend it highly enough. It is the ideal date night location if you are looking to really push the boat out and impress, and perhaps you could even book yourself into the hotel for the night. All we know is that the English Grill really is the jewel in Victoria’s crown.
The English Grill restaurant is now open to residents and visitors alike for lunch and dinner daily. Find The English Grill at 39 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 0PS. To make a reservation please call +44 (0)20 7834 6600 or book a table online at www.rubenshotel.com
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