It is perhaps a tribute to London’s international status that there’s a niche for this restaurant in the capital; relatively few people apart from star footballers are in a position to frequent it. Nor would we want to: indeed, there are other places we’d rather visit elsewhere within the Dorchester.
The cooking and setting are undeniably lovely, yet the overall experience lacks wow factors – apart from the bill – largely because of its unfashionably restrained, traditional approach to fine dining. Still, the restaurant commands a loyal clientele. Three courses from the carte cost £85, though the limited ‘lunch hour’ menu includes three courses, two glasses of wine, coffee and a half-bottle of water for £55. A few British ingredients (Dorset crab, Denbighshire pork, Colston Bassett stilton) make the cut, but otherwise this is very much a French affair complete with foie gras, truffled chicken quenelles and petit pois à la française.
Desserts and petit fours are superb, so plan to save room. We have fond memories of the trademarked (literally) Cookpot: a seasonally changing, pastry-sealed casserole featuring green asparagus, girolles and comté cheese this summer; in colder months, typically brussels sprouts, butternut squash, apple and Montgomery cheddar.
The wine list is naturally pricey, yet the sommeliers are helpful. You’ll need an additional £200 to secure the central table Lumière with its fibre-optic curtain and Hermès crockery – just the thing when you want to escape the riff-raff.