Opening earlier this month, The English Grill at Rubens at the Palace is a luxurious addition to the London fine dining scene.
With a vantage point overlooking the Royal Mews of Buckingham Palace, it occupies a suitably regal location in this rapidly developing part of the capital.
As part of a five year, multi-million pound refurbishment of the whole Rubens hotel, The English Grill combines polished silver, luxurious fabrics and beautiful chandeliers for a feeling of grandeur.
The addition of intimate leather booths to the restaurant also gives the sense one is dining in a private members’ club.
In a nice touch, the kitchen has also been fully refurbished, and the addition of a glass wall allows guests to enjoy the action.
It is a nice mixture of the old and the new, with the brightly lit kitchen standing in contrast to the stately atmosphere outside.
As Malcolm Hendry, general manager of The Rubens at the Palace, explains: “With the loving restoration of this historic property now complete, The Rubens has simply never looked better.
“We are very proud to launch The English Grill at a time when Victoria and the Nova complex are firmly establishing themselves as dining destinations in their own rights.
“This amazing new restaurant offers guests even more choice, bringing unrivalled glamour and the elegance of traditional English fine dining to the area.”
On arrival, the feel is classically, deliberately English; an English calibrated to appeal to the predominantly American clientele.
This is the charming, debonair, classic England that international visitors to London crave – delivered impeccably by scrupulously polite waiting staff.
Taking our seats in cosy booth on a Wednesday night, the restaurant passes the first test immediately – it is busy.
So many hotel eateries suffer from being virtually deserted, with staff anxiously watching guests’ every move as they wait for an order.
But The English Grill is alive with chatter, offering a warm, open welcome to guests from the hotel and passers-by.
The table is set with a silver service, and we are offered warm, fresh bread, with a delicious mackerel pâté as a hors d’oeuvre.
Tailcoated waiters talk us through the menu, which draws from English heritage to present a robust, hearty selection of meat-led dishes.
Ingredients are locally sourced from the highest quality English suppliers, including meats from Aubrey Allen, Royal Warrant holder to Her Majesty the Queen.
On a daily rotation are signature gourmet pies, which offer modern twists on retro classics.
These include English favourites such as pork and apple, Shepherd’s and chicken pot pies – the latter apparently made to a recipe perfected by Red Carnation Hotel Collection founder Bea Tollman.
But it is the daily roast that is the star of the show here.
Again changing daily, the roasts include delicacies such as beef wellington, 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.
But before we get to that, the starters.
The menu offers a wide selection of English classics; I opted for the chicken liver parfait, which comes with a toasted brioche, while my guest plumped for the black pudding scotch egg, with watercress.
She wins this round!
The scotch egg is delicious; light, yet crispy, with a runny egg in the centre.
While the flavours could be overwhelming, they are instead delicately balanced and the dish provides a great glimpse of English cuisine.
On to the mains, and beef wellington has always been a favourite of mine.
Served with creamed onions and Madeira jus, the dish comes with a suitable slice of pageantry.
Expertly carved from a bespoke silver trolley, it is delivered to the table with a great deal of fanfare and certainly lives up to the hype.
Moist, rich red meat is surrounded by flaky, light pasty and is perfectly offset by the creamed onions – it is a real treat and the highlight of the meal.
The English Grill’s menu also features a selection of vegetarian and seafood dishes, with my guest opting for the 18 ounce grilled Dover sole.
A serious piece of fish, it comes with chunky tartare sauce, and could probably feed two.
But despite the size it is delicate, fresh and meltingly light on the tongue; it also fits perfectly with the minted petits pois and duck fat potatoes on the side.
To accompany we select the Galpin Peak, a 2013 pinot noir, one of a number of bottles from Bouchard Finlayson, The Rubens’ sister vineyard in South Africa.
Just outside, the hotel’s regally refurbished Cavalry Bar offers a great place to extend the evening with a digestif while enjoying the live music offered nightly.
The English Grill is just the destination international visitors expect when they visit London – and they will not be disappointed.
Situated in Rubens at the Palace, the English Grill restaurant is open to residents and visitors alike for lunch and dinner daily.
Overlooking Buckingham Palace and The Queens Gallery, the Red Carnation hotel is within walking distance of Green Park and Victoria Station.
Find out more on the official website.