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, such as the venerable Grill at the Dorchester.
The cooking and setting are undeniably lovely here, 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.