The Grill at the Dorchester, London

 

Another week, another trilogy realised: I have now eaten at all of the Dorchester Hotel’s three restaurants. China Tang was long ago now and, bar maybe the best egg-fried rice I have ever had, was rather forgettable. Widely derided Alain Ducasse was a disappointment; here, again only one dish – Filets de sole à la florentine, crevettes et champignons de Paris, sauce Château Chalon – shone (very brightly), whilst desserts I thought terrible and I did try three.

Already, automatically almost, I am inclined to favour the Grill. This is solely because it is the common casualty of some uncalled-for criticism from celebrated critic, AA Gill. Together with a favourite of mine, l’Ambassade de l’Ile, the Grill was awarded a single star (out of five) by this aforesaid assessor. Do not misunderstand – I do not mind if my judgment differs from his, but I do think that, after describing dishes as ‘utterly brilliant, deliciously flavoured’ and all the cooking as ‘craftsmanlike, considered and thoughtful,’ giving it only one star essentially because he did not like the décor, is just misrepresentative. I will describe the Grill’s design in more detail later, but for now, let us just say Mr. Gill liked it even less than l’Ambassade’s.

Built surprisingly recently, as late as 1931, the darling Dorchester is the babe of London’s bunch of grand hotels, but maybe my favourite. The Ritz oozes opulence; the Connaught is celebrated; Claridge’s, classy; the Savoy…shut; but the Dorchester endears, delights and has je ne sais quoi. In addition to its illustrious history of hospitality, the hotel also carries an important culinary legacy, of which the Grill is the greatest epitome. From here, Anton Mosimann revolutionised hotel dining in London with the 1975 introduction of his cuisine naturelle – a lighter, healthier way of eating – making the Dorchester’s the first hotel kitchen outside France to earn two Michelin stars. However, years past have seen such success stale and in an attempt to remedy this rot, 2006 saw the Dorchester Grill redubbed the Grill at the Dorchester and dramatically redesigned: from indulgently Iberian to scandalously Scottish. More significantly, a new chef was sought to replace the out-going (to Tom’s Kitchen) Ollie Couillard, who had struggled to stamp his mark on the restaurant. Indeed, the Grill is a tall order for any chef: first, there is its tradition as a bastion of Britishness to bear, but then there is the bad name gained for being the boring retreat of the blue-rinse mob.

Aiden Byrne was approached. Young, dynamic and English, Aiden – the youngest chef ever to win a Michelin star – was seen as the ideal man to inherit the helm. However, he was at first hesitant. Visiting the restaurant did not help: after watching ‘people falling asleep in their bowls of soup’, his wife forbade him taking the job – ‘you’re not coming here,’ she decided. Ultimately though, the lure of London’s bright lights proved too persuasive and he accepted the job in October 2006. Aiden, who had been running Danesfield House near Marlow, previously worked at Tom Aikens (1*) as head chef; Pied à Terre (2*) as sous chef; Adlards, Norwich (1*) as head chef also; and Roscoff, Peacock Alley and the Commons (all in Dublin), chronologically. Thus he had learned directly from the likes of David Adlard, Paul Rankin, Richard Neat and, his mentor, master emulsifier, Tom Aikens. Aiden also, aptly, brings with him a passion for British cooking and ingredients: ‘my aim has always been to shatter the myth that British food has to be heavy and old-fashioned and to highlight the fact they we have some of the finest suppliers and produce in the world.’ Sounds like a marriage made in heaven…

The Grill’s gilded gateway is found along the opulent promenade – which happens to stretch the same length as Nelson’s Column – that runs through the hotel’s heart. That doorway may as well be a wormhole; entering the dining room, one is transported three hundred years into the past and three hundred miles north, to Bonnie Scotland. The décor was the million pound masterpiece of Thierry Despont, the same man charged with restoring nothing less than the Statue of Liberty. I can imagine what had happened: as deadline day drew near, this Frenchman, wrestling to overcome some mammoth mental roadblock and desperate for inspiration, must have found it in one of two places. The first was at the breakfast table: deliberating his dilemma over a bowl of porridge, his attention was arrested by the box, of Scott’s Porridge Oats of course, and his theme was determined then. But, on second thoughts, this is unlikely – they do not really do breakfast across la Manche, petit dejeuner there consists of cigarettes et café, n’est-ce pas? The second scenario saw his motivation come from the menu itself, opening it, reading the first item ‘Oak Smoked Scottish Salmon’ – it must have been the Sunday lunch menu – he decided he had struck gold: reminiscences of the Auld Alliance, la Vieille Alliance, swelled in his breast and this witty Frenchman, in mocking, defiant stand against les Rosbifs built a shrine to all that is Scottish. Historical note: this accord between France and Scotland aimed specifically against England culminated in the 1421 Battle of Bauge when the ‘Army of Scotland’, part of the French royal service, defeated Albion’s army and earned themselves the appellation ‘antidote to the English’.

 

Getting back on track…tartan dominates the room: green-and-thatched-red tartan carpets the floor; two types of it – green/navy/red-pinstripe and red/scarlet/green-pinstripe – upholster the high-backed armchairs; the same green/navy one wraps the wine shelves on either side of the dining area; whilst the red tartan lines dresser screens. The focal point is a large four-sided centre-couch complete with comfy cushions and crowned by a large bronze urn filled with several dozen roses. The glossy, golden-brown burnished walls are adorned in ‘Carry on Ceilidhing‘ style with the Grill’s most controversial feature -10ft tall highlanders and highland-lassies, unsurprisingly, togged up in more tartan. Other minor talking points include bright red, velvet bedsteads on some of the seating. Four large chandeliers hang from the cream ceiling. The restaurant, fitting about eighty, is filled with square tables dressed with white linen and finely furnished with elegant J.L. Coquet crockery, silver salt-and-pepper shakers made by Peugeot and a pair of fresh-cut roses.

 

I could continue writing all day, but I best stop and cut to the chase: the food.

Amuse Bouche 1: Lemongrass and Carrot Soup. An attention-grabbing amuse of lemongrass and carrot complete with spherificated cylindrical of coriander awakened our taste-buds. Each spoonful surrendered short sweetness succeeded by a deep, almost sharp finish from the lemony, gingery grass. The bitter bubble burst with a warm, citric spiciness that complemented the lemongrass.

Les Pains: Five seed & cereal; Brown rye; Walnut, thyme & onion; and Stilton. A four-strong selection of homemade breads was offered. A soft, wholemeal brown rye came plain or filled with five seeds and cereal. Walnut, thyme and onion was well-seasoned with the strong aroma and flavour of minty, lemon-like thyme and had a nice, nutty coat. The most interesting of all, however, was the Stilton. This fluffy, white bread with well-baked crust had a mellow, earthy essence; the potentially overpowering quality of the blue cheese was kept comfortably under control. Lescure butter from Normandy, with its characteristic gentle tang, was served alongside.

Entrée 1: Braised Chicken with potato and truffle cannelloni. An Aiden signature dish of three braised, boned chicken wings came sandwiched between two cannelloni – one of crispy spud filled with soup of potato, warm milk and truffle oil and another of chicken and truffle mousse – with a tater tuile, buckler-leaf sorrel garnish and dressed in truffle oil, chive and chicken jus sabayon. The mouth-watering wings, from Jason Wise of Ark Chicken, with sticky, caramelised skin, were succulent and flavourful. The pipe of pommes purée was soft and smooth with earthy, fungi depth. The cylinder of chicken mousse, also containing crunchy, diced potato, was just as creamy. The buckler-leaf sorrel supplied a welcome acidic, clean note of lemon, whilst the gorgeous gravy had smoky intensity from the truffle and richness from the jus roti. of Pied à Terre’s Shane Osborne described this as ‘one of my best dishes of the year,’ whereas, for me, it brought back memories of mumsy’s mash.

Entrée 2: Peach and Tomato Salad with pine vinaigrette. A rather summery second starter followed the first: slices of peach, heirloom, ripe and unripe tomato, served with peach and tomato fondants, peach mousse and tomato foam, were presented peppered with pine nuts, drizzled in vinaigrette and bedecked with baby basil and dill. The juicy, fragrant peach and faintly tangy tomato made a refreshing pair that was balanced by the sweetly-acidic sherry vinaigrette. The herbs added subtle sweetness and faint pungency to the plate; toasted nuts, crunch and creaminess; whilst a little olive oil, vibrant fruity flavour. I particularly liked the use of uncommon green tomato, which sprinkled with salt, is a favourite summer snack of mine.

Entrée 3: Poached Scallops with autumn vegetables and lemon thyme butter. A plenteous portion of four poached scallops were produced accompanied by an assortment of autumnal vegetables and light lemon thyme butter sauce. Moist, soft, sweet shellfish, slow cooked in vegetable broth, had firm, fine texture, full flavour and fell effortlessly apart. The collection of carefully chopped, crunchy, al dente greens – carrot, celeriac, courgette, fennel and onion – had delicate sweetness; and lemon rind julienne were pleasingly sour without being harsh. The delightful dressing, brimming with citric buzz, brought together and enlivened all the elements on the dish. The minty thyme and trim of parsley added additional refreshing tang.

Entrée de Mon Frère: Watercress Soup with poached cod and hen’s egg. My brother’s menu du jour commenced with classic British watercress soup, suitably coloured British racing green. Partnering the potage was poached pairing of hen’s egg covering chunky cod. Good, gently grainy consistency was backed up with stimulating, peppery savour. The egg was well-cooked and agreeably gooey, whilst the cod, tender and flaky. The Stilton bread came into its own when called upon to clean up the remnants of the soup.

Entrée 4: Chilled Beetroot Gazpacho with avocado sorbet and vodka jelly. A Tyrian purple bloodbath of beetroot boasted two buoyant islands of cloudy vodka jelly and electric-chartreuse avocado sorbet quenelles. This second speciality of Aiden’s was pregnant with powerful and complicated flavours: the very unctuous concoction gushed with earthy, sour and sweet smokiness; the vodka shot was seriously strong and sharp, but just about kept in check by the creamy, cooling assistance of avocado. This was a witty reworking of traditional beet borsht, itself customarily complemented with vodka. The potent potion of cooked and uncooked beetroot, golden beet, vanilla, apple juice, vinegar and coriander leaf was striking both in presentation and on the palate. The enduring vision of le visage de mon petit frère swollen with wide, surprised smile, showing off teeth sopping with bleeding beet juice just like a vampire, still amuses me.

 

Plat Principal: Roasted Turbot with lobster, apple and rosemary. A tripartite delight of three of my most favoured foods – turbot, lobster and sweetbread – saw the harvest of the soil, shoreline and shallower sea amassed upon a single plate. The roasted, golden-tanned turbot, with its delectable, distinguished taste, was excellently cooked and flawlessly flaky (it also came with Parma ham, which I removed); the fishy fillet sat atop apple julienne. Half-tail of bouncy, lissom lobster, roasted in rosemary, was warmed by the woody sweetness of the herb. The unannounced, but not unwelcome cannelloni of succulent sweetbread, moist lobster meat and diced roasted apple (within and atop) was seasoned with Calvados – that in true trou Normand fashion rewoke my appetite. The deeply delicious and creamy, enjoyably chewy roll was rich and intoxicating. Apple and more robust rosemary purée puddles mingled in the middle of the dish with concentrated, condensed sauce of veal jus, rosemary, roasted apple again and lobster oil. The successful application of apple, whose fruitiness underscored the subtly sweet savour of the shellfish, fish and meaty gland, was inspired. This intricate, intense dish was well-relished.

 

Plat Principal de Mon Frère: Angus Beef with Yorkshire Pudding. Served elegantly and traditionally tableside from the trolley by Victor, this was the second piece of British culinary culture on today’s carte. A plethora of porcelain ramekins and bronze bowls brimful of a variety of vegetables in light Hollandaise sauce; mustard, English and French (le meilleur, Victor nous a dit); horseradish; and Madeira gravy accompanied tender, pink carvings of medium-rare rib of Aberdeen Angus beef and jumbo crispy Yorkshire pudding. My brother’s beef was juicy and good quality; the roast potatoes were better than textbook with great crumbly coat; the sautéed-in-orange-juice carrots struck a pleasing chord with him; but he ignored the steamed broccoli. Digressing, I must mention the lovely handcrafted Laguiole-en-Aubrac steak knife set for this course that caught my eye.

 

Pre-Dessert: Yoghurt Mousse with carrot, orange and olive oil. This sophisticated structure was constructed thus: vegetal-sweet carrot mousse base was laid with a sour disc of iced homemade yoghurt; soft ring of moist carrot cake – crammed with carrot crème – came embedded in the mousse-yoghurt foundation; atop the cake sat a frozen segment of orange, beneath a quenelle of yoghurt sorbet sprinkled with orange skin crumbs and set with biscuit tuile. An orange potage was poured at the table. Light, refreshing and fruity, this was an excellent pre-dessert. The marriage between carrot and orange, logical with hindsight, was interesting and worked well. Textural variation and the complete continuum of cooler temperatures (ice, cold, mild) were both brought into play.

Dessert de Mon Frère: Melting Chocolate Tart with coffee ice cream and cardamom foam. The carte du jour concluded with molten coco cake with sablé breton base complemented with copious coffee ice cream and spoonful of cardamom foam. The Valrhona Caraïbe 66% sponge was balanced, mellow and woody with little sugariness, but a hint of coffee that obviously went well with the distinct ice cream. The cake’s almost-liquid layered top had a great sticky quality, whilst the base was short and buttery. Cardamom mousse was bittersweet and highlighted the choc’s smokiness. All in all, this was a very good chocolate dessert – and a continuation of the rich vein of cocoa puddings that I have lately hit upon.

Dessert: Super-moist Chestnut Sponge with chocolate mousse and vanilla ice cream. Pavé of chestnut sponge-cake sat under a smaller slice of chocolate mousse coupled with two thin, crisp pain feuilleté – one above, one below it. Atop this pyramid was placed a coco cannelloni sugar tuile oozing with Chantilly crème and a scoop of airy vanilla ice cream, embedded with biscuit wafer. Embellishment comprised of chestnut mousse, dashes of choc sauce and roasted chestnut chips. The Valrhona Ecuador 55% mousse was nicely bitter; the tuile tube, crunchy, earthy and sweet; chestnut cream was bittersweet and nutty, whilst its pieces, soft; but the cake itself, dense yet light, had less strength than was expected/desired. Despite that, the especially enjoyable experience of spooning all these elements together into creamy, crunchy, moist mouthfuls made this a delightful, autumn treat.

Café et Petit Fours: Lemon sponge cake; Chocolate biscuit button; Mohrenköpfe; and Blackcurrant macaron. A crumbly lemon sponge, crowned with passion fruit crème and diced lime zest, had good fruity punch and sourness; chocolate shortbread biscuit and fine coco feuille cemented with Valrhona Caraïbe 66% ganache was sugary-tart. An unconventional Mohrenköpfe – Moor’s head – of chocolate praline packed with pistachio, hazelnut and macadamia, melted in the mouth with milky nuttiness; whilst blackcurrant macaron was sweet and sharp. Coffee was good and, delightfully, free refills were offered.

The menu offers good ol’ English fare mixed with Aiden’s own adventurous creations, which combine humdrum ingredients in interesting and impressive ways, for instance, humble chicken and potato (admittedly with some truffle) were transformed into something surprising and outstanding. Judging from the food, the chef’s trademark must be big, bold flavours. Aiden’s cooking is confident, luxurious and gratifying and it is also consistent; execution was impeccable and not one dish disappointed. Hallmarks of teacher Tom Aikens, godfather of foam and serial saucer, are patently present on some of the plates, but in deliberate, mature, measured manner. Seasonally selected raw materials – micro-greens from Richard Vine (gardener not Bloomberg columnist), cheese from La Fromagerie, even new breed lamb from Denham Estate – are as excellent as expected and many of my favourites are found (turbot, partridge, Dover sole). Lastly, a previously reproved lack of legumes certainly seems set right.

Front-of-house, from Marion our serveuse to cheerful Victor (photographed above) to engaging, expert sommelier, Jason McAuliffe, was first-class. All our requests were dealt with readily, speedily and with a smile. For example, I fancied the 7-course tasting menu, whilst my diet-conscious, budget-watchful brother wanted the 3-course menu du jour. Normally, the whole table would have to order similarly, but this logistical headache was handled consummately – the kitchen even sent little brother a bowl of beetroot gazpacho, gratuit. Marion, on top of being patient, attentive and well-informed, took us on a full tour of the Grill, Dorchester’s many kitchens and Krug room; all impressive. Aiden himself, the anti-archetype of a Michelin chef – chipper, effervescent, shaven-headed and sprouting a thick Liverpudlian brogue – was a pleasure to meet.

Aiden’s ambitious, purposeful, excitingly-presented and thought-provoking cuisine is causing a stir and winning him some influential fans: Marcus Wareing thinks him ‘inventive, creative and a lovely guy’; Aikens commends his ‘passion for excellence’; Richard Vines (the Bloomberg one) rates him as ‘one of my favourite three/four chefs in London’; whilst even Alain Ducasse, steps away, is more worried about competing with him than the likes of Gordon Ramsay. Who am I to disagree with them? Luckily, I do not have to.

Now, if the idea of being trapped in a Walker’s biscuit tin is holding you back, be brave and follow Jay Rayner’s advice – ‘enjoy the food and…don’t look up’. Sympathetically, there is plenty on the plate to keep you busy and entertained. But do go fast: ‘I’m not going to be here forever. My dream is to open my own restaurant and the Dorchester is well aware of that.’ Aiden’s words, not mine.


53 Park Lane, Dorchester Hotel, WIK 1QA
tel: 020 7629 888
8nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner
www.thedorchester.com


Dorchester Grill Room on Urbanspoon

23 Responses to “The Grill at the Dorchester, London”


  1. 1 kent paul October 30, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    I got Aiden Byrne’s cook book the other week and his food looks great it’s just a shame that the dining room in his restaurant looks like an ancient Roman boudior Lol

  2. 2 kent paul October 30, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    As for AA Gill the guy is a pompous t**t who spend three quaters of his restaurant reviews talking about the blonde and anything but the food he is eating, that is untill about 3 sentences from the end of his artical he finaly tells you what he thinks of the place idiot

  3. 3 Food Snob October 31, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Regarding the book, I have seen some of the recipes and I believe the beetroot gazpacho, chestnut mousse and tomato/peach salad are all in there…

    On a side note, it looks like that book is part of a big PR push – ‘Yeah, I’ve got a few things on the go at the moment. Channel Four have approached me about being a presenter on a documentary. I’m looking at doing Great British Menu next year potentially. There are quite a few things coming up. It’s all about raising my profile so that when I do open my own restaurant, the PR is already in place’ – maybe if that star does not arrive in Jan…

    On the second point, I choose to remain objective and neither approve nor refute your opinion of AA Gill.
    That said, for the record, in his Dorchester critique, I counted 111 lines of text, of which 7 were dedicated to the cooking or 1175 words, of which 88 described the food – that is 6.5% and 7.5%, respectively…

  4. 4 Loving Annie October 31, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    You make it sound quite good, FS.

    And I have been searching for a sunday place that has good roast beef and yorkshire pudding for my last day in London next April.

    I could care less really about the decor, as long as it is immacualtely clean and opulent – and it looks as though it is🙂

    The Conciege at The Connaught recommended Rules – but trip advisor hated it for the most part.

    Between The Grill and Rules for the roast beef/yorkshire pudding alone – which would be your prefernce, understanding I have not been to either and don’t live close enough to check ?

    And is there even yet ANOTHER place you think might be better for that ?

    I like Andy Hayler as a resouce, but also enjoy comparing him to the others who so enjoy good dining. It is all personal perspective and taste.

    Loving Annie

    p.s. it is odd – your posts always show up almost a week late on my blog list !

  5. 5 Food Snob November 1, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Bad news. Aiden has just announced he will be leaving to run his own restaurant/pub/hotel in Cheshire. He will be at the Dorchester until the end of Jan 2009 and the hotel are ‘shooting for stars’ to replace him….

    A real shame, I think.

    P.S. LA – Let me get back to you!

  6. 6 kent paul November 1, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    I just read your bit on Egullet and you were right it is a shame he wants to dumb his grub down in his new venture because technically he i think his food could be of 2* quality, P.S were have all the young british chefs with 3* ambitions gone because everybody seems to want to own gastro pubs these days, even Anthony Flinn who once said he would get 3* or die trying seems to have given up and is now concentraiting on his new Anthony’s Piazza venture at the Corn Exchange in Leeds.

  7. 7 Food Snob November 1, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    You’re right.
    It is difficult to name any (younger) British chefs that are really trying to push the boat out or rock it, for that matter…
    There is Chris Staines at Foliage who had an espoir last year, he is probably the closest currently.
    Are there any chefs that excite you especially?

  8. 8 kent paul November 2, 2008 at 2:48 am

    Nathen Outlaw will get 2* sooner rather than later plus once he gets a decent venue to show off his skills and of coarse the right financial backers i think that Marcus Eaves has all the natural talent talent in the world to one day hit that level, and the same goes for Tristan Welch, Tom Kitchin, Robert Thompson and Adam Simmonds. As for some of the other guys out there Sat Baines also has a lot of talent to get more stars but the guy seems to want to make desserts an interllectual exercize rather than going for pure luxury as seen on the Great British Menu and that holds him back as a chef, were as Simon Rogan’s restaurant L’Enclume in Cartmel deserves 2* but only has 1*. As for the current bunch of high profile chefs only Marcus Wareing, John Campbell, Daniel Clifford, Michael Caines and David Everritt-Mathias of Le Champignon Sauvage who’s food is of 3* quality but the decore in his restaurant lets him down, have the chance to one day reach the holy grail of 3 michelin stars IMO.

  9. 9 Food Snob November 2, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    How about if the Grill hire Nathan Outlaw as Aiden’s replacement? That would be ideal for me, as Cornwall is a little far for dinner. However, I have heard a lot of good comments about him – definitely one to watch. As all of those names are really!
    Welch, I should have no excuse for not yet trying. I liked Kitchin’s work on GBM last year. Thompson and Simmonds I know less of, except that Simmonds was Aiden’s successor at Danesfield House (small world…)
    I missed the second series of GBM, so did not see Bain’s stuff.
    L’Enclume, LCS and MH all excite me, whereas, the little I have seen (mainly masterchef lol etc) of The Vineyard and Gidleigh Park has not appealed to me as much as the others.
    Marcus Wareing, personally and based on one meal, is not 3*. There were some brilliant moments, but the experience did not compare with other 3*s I have tried (which was in Paris however).
    If pushed I think I would have to say, in London, my favourite restaurant is Le Gavroche; I just love how the place/people make me feel there, to be honest.
    You are clearly the far more worldly gastronome between us Paul; you ought to be writing a blog, not me!

  10. 10 kent paul November 2, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    I know that he has in the past liked to jump from restaurant to restaurant but i think Nathen Outlaw is settled down now at his current place, and i remember reading a while back that one of the michelin inspectors said the reason he has not got 2* in the past is because as a chef he is a bit of a nomad. As for the food knowledge thing i would never be big headed enough to say i have more food knowledge than you or anybody else, it’s just i like to eat out as much as i can you could call it a hobby as well as supporting Arsenal but we shall not talk about that because they suck at this present monent in time. As for having my own food blog i am far too lazy to do that Lol unlike you, as for your food blog you should be very proud of it because it is very good, you right well and take good pictures and at least you have the decency to reply to your posts which is a plus point, unlike some of the more high profile food blogs out there who think that they are above such things IMO.

  11. 11 Food Snob November 2, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Haha.
    You are too kind!
    Obviously I like good food and have an unhealthy appetite, but more so, I love to write. The blog is an excuse to go out and try new restaurants and enjoy myself (as if an excuse for that should be needed). It is also a good moderating tool – the sheer length and time needed to write one of these babies is the only reason I am not obses and/or broke!
    And do not remind me about pictures! I must buy a new camera. Some of the pictures from my last meal are awful. I am considering a SLR, but they are so big and bulky…
    While replying to people’s messages is simply good manners, but it’s enjoyable too.

    P.S. Let’s not talk about Arsenal. I feel your pain.

  12. 12 genuiness November 17, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    how highly do you rate the grill FS? Thinking of booking here for Christmas eve.

  13. 13 Food Snob November 18, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Hard question.
    IMHO, though it may not be fair, if I hear that the chef has already announced that he is off, then I assume either his heart will not be in his current work; he has his mind on his new restaurant; or even that the kitchen/FOH staff will just be demotivated…
    That is one thing, the other is that Christmas Eve will probably be a traditional set menu? So either you will not get the benefit of Aiden’s creativity or possibly, because the Grill does the classic stuff regularly anyway, it will be very good!
    Sorry if that was not too helpful!

  14. 14 david goodfellow December 2, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Aiden Byrne is plying his trade in cheshire at the church green hotel, lymm and doing it very well indeed
    As strange as it may seem my wife and i had intended to dine at the dorchester two weeks ago but had a late change of plan.
    As luck would have it i turned on the bbc to watch saturday kitchen and Aiden was one of the guest chefs and in due course announced his new venture
    I immediately picked up the phone to book a table however it seemed everybody and his brother had the same idea, eventually we succeeded and the following day made the 40 mile journey in anticipation.
    We were not disappointed i expect this place to be a massive hit not only bcause of its fantastic location but for food at pub prices by a michelin starred chef it simply can not fail.
    I am extremely jealous that cheshire has gained such a much valued chef of Aiden Byrnes stature especially that i reside in staffordsire which does not even have one entry in the good food guide never mind michelin. Rest assured though we shall be regularly be pounding up the M6 for a bargain priced meal

  15. 15 Food Snob December 2, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    I saw that lol

    What is disturbing is that someone asked me until when he would be at the Dorc last week and when I rang the hotel, they confirmed he would be there until the end of January, as was originally announced in the press…

    Anyway, what sort of food is he serving?

    Thanks very much for the message too!

  16. 16 david goodfellow December 2, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    The food is top quality gastropub but can you believe £12.50 for pheasant breast savoy cabbage with bacon and fondant potatoes with a beautiful sauce what a steal.That was my wifes main course,I had line caught sea bass with razor clams and chorizo which was right on the money,literally at £16.
    I started with a roasted pumpkin risotto flavoured with lemon,£4.95 my other half had duck breast with mixed leaves and some wonderful crunchy crouton bites which added a suprise element to the dish £6
    We ended the meal with a banana sponge £4.95 and a chocolate mousse £4.95
    Aiden had two staff with him in the kitchen according to Sarah his partner who was in charge of front of house, marshaling her young and very charming staff admirably.
    The menu is eclectic and as it was sunday,roast beef and yorkshire pudding was very much in evidence £7.95 although i suspect the qualiy would be much above average pub beef
    clearly there is no brigade of chefs in the kitchen so every dish is pared down given the prices charged and i for one would eat my way through the menu on a daily basis if it were my local

  17. 17 Food Snob December 2, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    David, it sounds like a bargain.
    Just to eat Aiden’s cooking at those prices…

    Only a couple of days ago I saw a repeat of the Masterchef finale when he prepared a menu for the three contestants to cook for M. Roux Sr, Alleno, Wareing, Fairlie et al. I wanted to eat each dish…the creativity and thinking behind them showed why he won his first star at, what was it, 22?

    Did you ask his ambitions for the place? Or why he left London?

  18. 18 david goodfellow December 2, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    He was so busy in the kitchen and short of support he could not come to the table.I shall return during the week as Sarah told me he was looking foreward to talking to me, although it could be something to
    do with a promised ride in my audi r8 as he,s a bit of a car enthusiast. I was told by Sarah that the pricing policy is pitched towards local support and given this fact it has to be championed bec
    ause of the current climate. I do know he will be representing the northwest in Great british menu against Nigel Haworth which I,m look ing foreward to watching I understand Aiden always wanted his own place and the opportunity arrived and was just too good to miss Lucky Cheshire

  19. 19 Food Snob December 2, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    lol…not bad. That’s one way to get him on your side.

    I read that he was doing GBM. Really looking forward to it, but it will be strange this year as there is a lot more publicity around it.
    Just look at the success Atherton and Maze has had since the last one.
    Only God knows how much cash that BLT has earned them.

    Before the Dorc, he was at Danesfield, which was a hotel/resto, maybe he caught the bug for managing such an establishment then…

    Too right. Lucky Cheshire…

  20. 20 david goodfellow December 2, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    When Sat Bains was on Great British Menu we had to book 3/4 weeks in a
    dvance but it was well worth the wait.I believe Glyn Purnell had a surge in business after GBM although we visited his place not long after he opened.With reference to Maze we visited one sunday for lunch having the day before eaten the lunch menu at the Ledbury which was very quiet however the food was excellent.
    The menu read ok however it did not translate to the plate very well the portion size was miniscule and truly disapointing I made my feelings known to the maitre d who informed Jason Atherton who was in the kitchen and to his credit he produced two dishes. foc to truly show what he was capable of producing .I shall not forget his generosity

  21. 21 Food Snob December 2, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    It’s a little depressing that for a chef to be successful, he has to get himself on TV…

    Maze? I have wanted to visit the restaurant a few times, but what with all the hype, I expect to be disappointed, which isn’t fair to Atherton.
    He does seem a nice guy and very genuine. I remember when he met Gagnaire on GBM; you could see what it meant to him.
    BTW, thanks for the tip…I will now go to Maze, cause a right scene, then demand my extra dishes!😛

  22. 22 Bernd Hepberger September 29, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Great review!
    Just a question: How is the dress code in this restaurant. Is it very posh or smart casual?

    Thanks for the info,
    Bernd

    • 23 Food Snob October 3, 2009 at 6:53 pm

      Thanks, Bernd.
      It’s in the Dorchester, so fairly smart. Although I would not think that a jacket is compulsory for instance.
      However, word of caution – Aiden Byrne, the chef whilst I ate here, has moved on to open his own restaurant in Cheshire…


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