Monday, March 16, 2015

The Colony Grill Room - London

The Colony Grill Room is the newest restaurant from the stable of Chris Corbin and Jeremy King. These guys own and run some of London’s most popular restaurants – The Wolseley, the Delaunay, Brassiere Zedel, Colbert, Fischer and now the Colony Grill Room.

One of the hallmarks of a Corbin & King restaurant is the eye for detail in doing the theme and interiors for the restaurant. The Wolseley and the Delaunay are both in the grand European Café Bistro style. Brassiere Zedel and the Colony Grill Room are done is a fabulous Art Deco style. Fischer’s is a Viennese Konditorei. All gorgeous.

The Colony Grill Room is located inside the Beaumont Hotel also owned by them. As you enter you walk thru the American Bar. The whole Art Deco styling hits you once you enter. Waiters are dressed in white waistcoats and white jackets all so very reminiscent of period films. A very nice feel. The dining room is past the bar. What an absolutely gorgeous room. Every element is thought thru; every fitting is there for a purpose. The crockery, cutlery and the glasses are all in an Art Deco style. Really nice really well done. Full marks. It must have cost millions of Pounds to decorate.

Once we were seated I thought that the tables were just too close to each other. There was no privacy of any sort and it is quite distressing to be sitting that close to a fellow diner. The food served here can best be described as comfort food, old style from both sides of the Atlantic. Clear indication that there is an American influence is the use of the word Entrée to describe a main course unlike the Continental description where Entrée is a starter! The menu has 11 sections. I am listing some of the classic dishes on each:

Soups - Mock Turtle Soup, Minestrone
Hors D`Oeuveres & Crustacés – Clamato Juice, Smoked Salmon, Oysters Rockefeller, Prawn Cocktail
Salads – Caesars, Iceberg & Blue Cheese
Eggs - Benedict
Pasta – Macaroni & cheese
American Sandwiches – Club, Hot Dogs, Pastrami
Les Plats du Jour – Meatloaf, Steak & Yorkshire Pudding
Grilled Meats – Gammon with Pineapple [this dish is so old school that even the humble Gaylords in Mumbai serves this]
Fish – Grilled Dover Sole
Entrées – Chicken Pot Pie
Vegetables and Side Salads

So now you know what I mean.

The place had a nice buzz and a crowd that seemed well heeled and some with definite American twangs. We settled down, I ordered a Gin & Tonic. HRH the Queen of Kutch said she would stick to just wine, so a bottle of Pinot Noir was ordered. HRH the Queen of Kutch ordered a Clam Chowder with Smoked Haddock as her starter, while I asked for a Smoked Salmon. Before you could say Jack Robinson, the starters had arrived. Errr, `waiter’, I said, `where are our drinks’? Right away sir. Some moments later the G&T and wine arrived. HRH the Queen of Kutch's soup was under seasoned, no problem, a few shakes of the salt cellar and it was fine. I mean fine. Not good not great. My Smoked Salmon was fine. Once again just fine. Could it have been better? Well I have eaten much more heavily smoked salmon, so if that is a test of better, then yes, it could have been better. An ordinary start to our meal.

For our main course HRH the Queen of Kutch had ordered a small portion of Bigoli and Meatballs. It was also under seasoned. Some more salt shaken onto the food. She declared the dish as unremarkable. I ordered the Shepherd’s Pie. Shepherd’s Pie is always lamb – you know the Shepherd and the sheep and the lambs and the Biblical stuff. Cottage Pie is beef. Anyway, this was Lamb Shepherd’s Pie and it was rather good. Unfortunately it was under seasoned. A few shakes of the salt cellar later the Shepherds Pie was good. Much better than fine. Actually it was quite good, the best I have tasted.

Bigoli & Meatballs

Shepherd's Pie

By now we were quite unhappy.

Desserts were offered. One of the specialities here is the Bespoke Sundae where you can make your own mix and match Sundae. I can imagine this being very popular. I spotted Apple Pie a la Mode on the menu. I asked for that with two spoons. We got a healthy serving. The Apple Pie was very very good. The pastry was excellent, beyond belief good. The filling was tart and balanced with just the correct amount of sweetness. This was simply the dish of the day.

Apple Pie a la Mode

In the end despite the top class Apple Pie, the good Shepherd’s Pie the meal was underwhelming. Under seasoning of food in a restaurant of this calibre and at these prices is unforgivable and it was 3 dishes that were under seasoned. Serving of the starters before the drinks was cheeky. Were they trying to hustle us and turn the table? I do not know. Service was like that at a Chinese restaurant in London. Brusque waiters, just the right side of polite, unsmiling, cold and fortunately brutally efficient. This type of service also gives you, as a bonus, the art of forcing a plate down in inadequate space on your table thereby pushing aside all other plates glasses butter dishes etc.

This was one of very few the disappointing meals we have had in the UK. Sad. Besides the problem with seasoning and service, I believe there is a far bigger problem. The food is comfort food that is served in an old fashioned way, as it was 50 years ago. Unfortunately we have all become much more sophisticated over time. So, at this price point, in a restaurant as upmarket and swish as this, the food does not work. To compound the problem with the ordinary food is the price you pay. Unfortunately the price you pay for this food includes the cost of all the interior decoration. Therein lays a problem. You need extraordinary food if you are going to charge such prices.

We will not be going back here and do not recommend this.

I must disclose that photography was not possible as I felt uncomfortable with the cramped seating taking photos. These photos have been taken from the web.

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