As London dining rooms go, there are few as thigh-slappingly spectacular as the newly reopened Midland Grand. Unless, of course, you count the equally lavish and also recently revamped Booking Office 1869, which you can find just down the corridor in the St Pancras Renaissance. This historic hotel does imposing glamour extremely well. If high ceilings are your kink, then this sumptuous space – which housed Marcus Wareing’s The Gilbert Scott for a decade until its post covid kibosh – will have you in filthy raptures.
Thanks to the imposing building’s Grade I-listed status, the imposing room has stayed largely the same as it was when it was built almost 150 years ago; just a few new Art Deco-esque lamps here and some velvety furnishings there, but with vast, creamy ceilings looming above. As such, the energy remains akin to Poirot On a Big Night Out, but there are touches of classic New York here too, like we might have discovered a secret room at the bottom of the Chrysler Building, and Dorothy Parker is going to start flinging table scraps at us. The menu of strutting French food from chef Patrick Powell – who is also in charge of the kitchen at the slightly more far flung Allegra in Stratford – is a fittingly opulent match.
It would be remiss to start an evening here anywhere but the restaurant’s adjoining Gothic Bar, which is less Sisters of Mercy (though those ceilings would certainly accommodate a gigantic backcombed 1980s bouffant) and more Florence and the Machine’s walk-in wardrobe. Drinks too are a step up from the goth’s favourite of snakebite and black, with eau de vie-addled Martinis the signature sip. We plump for a sherbert-y Grand Royale cocktail to make sure we don’t get so hammered that we face-plant into the tastefully restored Victorian tiles.
A dish of snails could convince even the massively molluscophobic to give the slimy critters a go.
But even if we were shitfaced, the Midland Grand – so called in honour of the hotel’s original name – offers a pleasantly soft landing thanks to extremely plump booths. Appetisers arrived equally cushioned. A trio of oozing comte gougeres are a kind of inverted, savoury Walnut Whip, with a thrumming scrape of pickled walnut on their tidy little bottoms, while a grilled octopus gilda takes the cocktail stick snack of the moment and shoots it into the stratosphere. Thumping flavours keep coming, including starters of thick, rich crab toast with a potent shellfish sauce and a dish of snails that could convince even the massively molluscophobic to give the slimy critters a go. Craftily tucked away in a pommes paillasson and slow cooked bourguignon-style with nduja and guanciale, it was a triumph of gastro-gastropoddery.
Of course, such magnificence doesn’t come cheap. A main of butter-soft roasted lamb, surely only just plucked from the field, is £38, and perfectly pink chalk stream trout swimming in a dainty sea of sorrel, smoked butter, vermouth beurre blanc, and baubles of roe is £30. Portions aren’t massive either, so sides are necessary – the potato dauphinoise is your creamy, crispy-topped saviour. From the fabulous furnishings to its elegantly scalloped plates, and everything upon them, The Midland Grand Dining Room is the very definition of a treat.
The vibe Extreme opulence and then some in a recently restored London classic.
The food Full French flavour – including the requisite snails and lamb and excellently cheesy appetisers.
The drink The in-house som will offer poetic notions alongside thoughtfully chosen glasses of plonk.
Time Out tip If you’re going all-in, then a pre or post dinner visit to the Gothic Bar next door is mandatory. And if you’re not into cocktails, then the hotel’s Spice Girls ‘Wannabe’ video staircase is simply asking for selfies.