There is no better place in London to spend a warm summer’s evening than the rooftop of The Dorchester. Born from the necessary restrictions of lockdown and first unveiled as a popup last year, it has taken over from the private balcony of a former penthouse suite. The result is a splendid 64 cover space: a private oasis, nine floors up.
The Dorchester team are slowly adapting to the peculiarities of their new environment: when the Jubilee gun salute went off in Hyde Park, everyone jumped about a foot in the air. On the day I visited many of the team had spent their day delivering exquisite dishes at Royal Ascot just next to the Royal Box, before managing the delicate art of service in the sky during the evening service. Despite this, everything appears absolutely effortless.
The biggest difference between the Dorchester Rooftop and most five star experiences? Everyone here seems to be genuinely having a good time, not just throwing money at a relationship or testing the limits of their expense account. The Rooftop is fun, welcoming and extravagant. It seems bizarre to talk of “casual” or “informal” dining at such an austere address but even given that the minimum spend is £60, it somehow seems appropriate - picture a Riviera inspired menu being served up at the Polo Lounge... but with more people laughing and couples actually talking to their own partners.
Through the elaborate maximalist corridors (with all kinds of clandestine nooks for covert meetings) the terrace itself is stunning - boasting three separate Union Jacks, the hint of grill smoke and views of every London landmark (Big Ben! The Eye! Tower of London!). On the night I visited, a two-piece house band in pistachio colour suiting were performing Ben E King, Daft Punk and Drake. Service is exemplary throughout particularly sommelier Lars Jensen and Dorchester veteran Omondi Sege-Adede. Cocktails are both playful and perfectly delivered: we are steered towards a Melton (a Prosecco and citron de Menton, topped inexplicably with some candy floss) and a delightful Portofino (Roku gin, Strega, basil, Riviera lemonade).
The menu is devised by Jean-Philippe Blondet executive chef of Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester (from the ground floor) and head chef Bastien Bertaina. A selection of starters impressed - a vast piece of seemingly seaborne algae that was apparently a tapioca crisp, long orange tendrils of grissini that resembled ET’s finger, freshly baked focaccia, unctuous burrata with a vivid green basil sauce and a hearty and hefty bowl of olive tapenade. Wine wise we stuck to a crisp fresh bottle of delicious Gavi, full of white fruit and blossom.
Elegant and delicate sea bream was filleted at the table, while rarified barbecued octopus was served up with baba ganoush, aubergine crisps and paired neatly with grilled asparagus. Desserts are fun - a chocolate mousse covered with an intricate disc of darker cocoa, signature dessert tarte tropézienne had a luxurious cloud-like lightness to it, while the peanut cookie is the sort of thing that feels like a grown-up childhood treat for decades of good behaviour. The Dorchester Rooftop is a delight in every aspect. As they say on the Riviera: “Toute chose appartient à qui sait en jouir.” Or as they say near Marble Arch: "Kill for a table".