Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Goring Dining Room* - Revisited

To read about our previous visit click here.

We had eaten at the Goring Dining Room in March 2013 and loved it. What had impressed us very much was the fabulous bar. Then, earlier this year, the Goring Dining Room was awarded 1 star in Michelin. We thought to ourselves why not go back for a second visit.

This time we booked ourselves a table at a reasonably late 8.00 pm. The plan was to visit the bar, have a pre-prandial drink and then go to the Dining Room. That is exactly what we did.

The Goring has an unimpressive entrance. A short flight of steps leads you to a door which is opened by a doorman and you are virtually at the bar. We entered and were shown a table. The bar was as impressive as the last time we were there. While you could sit at the actual bar, we saw that no one actually did, so we were quite happy to be shown to a table. The escort politely asked if we had a reservation for dinner. I do not know if this is default practice of asking people this question, but we answered in the affirmative that we had a table under HRH the Queen of Kutch’s name at 8.00 pm.

The carpeted bar had lowish seating on extremely comfortable sofas and single seater arm chairs. The lighting was low and the hum of conversation just added to the quiet dignity of the place. There was no standing allowed in the bar, so the capacity was controlled. We looked around; we were the only brown faces. The crowd was older, white and rich. There were no jeans or sneakers in sight. Just a large number of older men and women having a drink in extremely convivial surroundings. No piped music, no guitarists or other musicians, simply the tinkle of glasses, the sound of a cocktail being shaken and the buzz of conversation. Boy, this was my kind of place.

Menus were placed on the table, HRH the Queen of Kutch ordered a Martini while I had a Negroni, by far my Cocktail of choice. The drinks arrived as did some nuts and wafers. Both drinks were revivers, in other words, unwatered down. It was just alcohol and ice. Soon, having downed the first drinks, we ordered two more, as we say in India – “repeat”. At this point the Captain from the Dining Room turned up carrying menus under his arm and reconfirmed if we were dining at the Hotel. Obviously the Escort had communicated this fact to the Dining Room. On being told yes he put down the menus, and we told him we would finish our drinks and be there shortly. A few minutes later he turned up again and asked if we had seen the menus and decided. Indeed we had. So, we gave him our orders and by and by finished our drinks. We walked to the Dining Room. No fuss, no drama and no waiter running behind you with a bill. The drinks would be added to our food bill.

I still maintain, the Bar at the Going is the finest we have been to in the world.

The Dining Room is large and the colour of the upholstery and carpeting is Cream & Beige with Swarovski Chandeliers hanging down from the ceiling. Outside the Dining Room is a Bronze Statue of the Queen Mother who used to frequently eat here. The food is described as British, so, not only do you have British ingredients, but the classic British dishes of Beef Wellington and Kedgeree are on the daily changing menu,

The food menu was a fixed price 3 course meal. There were a few extra dishes listed which were available at a supplement, Caviar for example, or Lamb or a jar of Potted Shrimps. Vegetables were also charged extra, which I thought was a bit of a rip off. A bottle of Sancerre was ordered since it was going to be Fish and Eggs for the main course, and we waited for our meal.

As a first course, HRH The Queen of Kutch wanted to go as they say “off Piste’, so unusually for her she ordered Chicken Soup, Glazed Wild Mushroom, Confit Egg Yolk, Celery. Chicken is not something she eats, nor is a soup. Additionally, the dish had Confit Egg, which is a thoroughly modern cooking technique. A Confit Egg is something that we have wanted to eat but for some reason never been able to. To Confit an Egg Yolk what is done is that the Yolk is submerged in oil - it could be simple oil or oil flavoured with say Rosemary or other ingredient - and cooked at a temperature of between 63C and 65C for about 45 minutes. This is also sometimes described as a 63 Degree Egg. The Yolk remains soft but yet stable and can be handled. This was a good dish, looked as pretty as a picture. HRH The Queen of Kutch adored the dish.

I, on the other had a diametrically different starter. A very traditional Beef Tartare with Pickled Onions and Mushroom Ketchup. I quite liked the idea of the Pickled Onions, you retained a traditional ingredient in the dish – onions – but by pickling them added the acid and removed the harsh onion taste. I required a grind of salt from the Salt Cellar, and once that was done, the dish was excellent.

Well begun.

It was time for the main courses and it was South Coast Brill with Cauliflower, Scottish Girolles, Sea Herbs and Smoked Mussel for HRH. Once again, the food was excellent. The Skin of the Brill wonderfully crisp and Golden and the Sea Herbs were quite unusual.

I ordered the Goring Dining Room Speciality – the Glazed Lobster Omelette with Lobster Caesar Salad and Triple Cooked Duck Fat Chips. A Buttered Hispi Cabbage was my vegetable. This dish was earlier a First Course, but with the arrival of a new Chef, the dish has been upgraded to a main course with the addition of the Salad and Chips. What is there to not like in this combination? The Omelette is luxurious with the Lobster, gooey with the lashings of Béchamel, rich with Cream, cheese and eggs. And, as if that much Lobster was not enough, the Salad had even more. To add even more calories you have the wonderfully, crisp on the outside and Soufflé like on the inside, duck fat chips. Indulgent comfort food.

We decided to not have two desserts but rather, one Cheese platter chosen from the several British Cheeses from the Trolley and one decidedly wonderful sounding dessert of Manjari Chocolate, Milk Jam, Salt Caramel Mousse and Milk Ice Cream. The Cheese was served with some crisp Fig Bread and Quince Jam. The Cheese was nice – I chose 4 a Washed Rind, a Blue, Cheddar and a Brie style - but nothing to rave about. The Chocolate on the other hand was really good.

In the end, we had a thoroughly wonderful evening. The Bar was a joy and the food competent. The service was decent and we had really nothing to complain about. What more does one want?


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