Restaurant Of The Week: The Lanesborough Grill

Words by
Andy Morris

30th May 2022

The former site of Aspleys and Celeste is now the home of one of Britain's most talented chefs.

Is there a better time to launch a new menu celebrating modern British food than on the eve of the Platinum Jubilee? With London aflutter with Union Jacks (and Twitter debating their merits), it seems like the perfect time to bring in some exemplary comfort food. Having already transformed The Goring from a fusty museum fixture to a Michelin starred showcase, the supremely talented chef Shay Cooper is clearly the right man for the job.

The Lanesborough Grill is one of the most ornate dining rooms in London. It was once Aspleys, then Celeste, but now for the first time the culinary output seems to match the splendid setting.  A conservatory roof lit with three sparkling chandeliers gives it the feel of a lavish country wedding, albeit with better catering. It feels like dining inside an issue of House & Garden or one of Anna Wintour’s patented “happiness, smiles, sunlight” shoots. The Bridgerton Afternoon Tea has already proven to be a huge hit (they even photographed the cast at the hotel for Entertainment Weekly). It simultaneously feels refined and yet welcoming. The staff make all the difference. On a recent evening, restaurant supervisor Zilbehar Asani and the Head Sommelier Adam Ramic made a winning double act: attentive, inquisitive and full of charm.

Much has been made of the tableside theatre of the Grill, but what strikes you most is quite how extraordinary each dish tastes once it is placed in front of you. The food - traditional dishes, delicately finessed with flair - started with the homemade Marmite infused sharing bread. began with three delicate quail - a trio of game birds rendered in buttermilk served with a slight mushroom and spring onion sauce. Crunchy crispy coronation crab salad with a curry leaf sabayon was revelatory - so perfectly balanced and with such a nuanced flavour that you can imagine even the most crustacean averse enjoying every mouthful. The Orkney scallops, served ceviche style with green zebra tomatoes, toasted hazelnuts and smoked rapeseed oil had the opulent ease of velvet. The Dover sole on offer here has a rich depth of flavour that one would struggle to find elsewhere - one critic I know ordered it  everywhere he went and used it as a metric of his success. He would have found much to enjoy here, particularly when accompanied by hash browns and lemon-accented charred brassicas. The lobster was a particular thing of loveliness, accompanied by a rich verbena butter, broad beans, peas and quenelles of courgette puree. Next time I’m dying to try the mega Beef Wellington with bone marrow potatoes. To conclude, caramelized brioche pudding with milk ice cream was a glistening thrill while the chocolate mousse with pecan praline and cocoa nib ice cream was a delight (but maybe not quite dark enough for dark chocolate purists).

The wine list is full of character and flavour, with a patriotic nod thanks to the presence of Gusbourne Rose and Kit’s Coty Bacchus from the Chapel Down estate. Ramic wasn’t afraid of flexing his creativity however: we started with a golden Rebula from Slovenia, and concluded with a simply magnificent sweet muscat from South Africa, via a digression involving three fingers of Graham’s Tawny Port (served in a Rehoboam for added visual and taste enhancement). All told, The Lanesborough Grill is an exquisite experience. As our evening concluded, in the background a recording of Jean Yves Thibaudet nimbly picked through Duke Ellington’s "Day Dream" could be heard. We were the last diners in the restaurant to leave. We will be back.