Island Grill, at the iconic mid-century Lancaster London, is a mere ten paces from Lancaster Gate Underground Station and the contemporary split-level dining space offers beautiful views across Hyde Park to enjoy. With its own private entrance opposite Hyde Park, it presents a modern European menu which changes with each season as part of its dedication to sustainability.
The two AA rosette restaurant has been awarded the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s top Three Star rating, thanks to Executive Head Chef Ben Purton’s tireless efforts to create an eco-friendly yet luxurious dining experience. His passion for the finest ingredients and cosmopolitan dishes is evident from the fantastic fare on offer. The hotel is a champion for the humble honey bee, and was the first hotel in London to cultivate beehives on its roof in 2009. Lancaster London also organises and hosts the annual “London Honey Show” in October to provide education on urban beekeeping.
Island Grill’s sleek design was conceived by Stiff + Trevillion, the talent behind Wagamama and Fakhreldine. With a white limestone exterior and large glass entrance doors, Island Grill creates a striking visual impact on arrival. The 90 cover restaurant has vast floor-to-ceiling windows running along the two outside walls, allowing light to flood into the restaurant space. In the evenings, the back-lit ceiling panels create a warm ambiance. The open-plan kitchen design allows diners to view the chefs at work, adding another dimension to their gastronomic experience.
The SLOAN! Review
Upon entering the restaurant, one immediately notices the slick classy interior with interesting small details such as the mini succulents on each table in lieu of cut flowers. At first glance the menu looks like the usual crowd pleasers yet many have more intriguing flavour combinations then in other establishments. The incredibly reasonable prices are also a pleasant first impression.
I went for the healthy option and chose the Island Salad to start. An mix of purple sprouting broccoli, cauliflower, roasted red onions, bulgur wheat, peppers, courgettes and parsley with poppy seed dressing.
The portion was satisfying without being too much and the micro cauliflower and baby courgette were good choices to not overwhelm the other ingredients. The use of bulgar wheat was a pleasant alternative to the everyday crouton! My dining companion loves scallops so it was no surprise when she headed for the Pan Fried Scallops on the menu. These were served with curried carrot puree, courgettes, carrot crisp, pickled radish & parsley oil.
Still providing crunch and texture, the use of carrot crisp made a nice change to the usual crispy bacon one tends to find accompanying this dish in other restaurants and the curried puree was original and flavourful on the plate with a contrast that took this dish to the next level.
Having been informed by our waiter that the Catch of the Day was the freshest whole Sea Bass, I could not resist sampling it and with the dish only priced at £13.95 it seemed almost churlish not to! I decided to complement the beautifully fresh grilled fish with a traditional Salsa Verde and some steamed spinach on the side.
Although some may have baulked and being served a whole fish, head and all, I enjoyed practising my deboning technique to get to the sumptuous delights close to the site of decapitation!
My friend was drawn to the 10oz Rib-Eye Steak and having been given a brief history on the origins of Cafe de Paris butter, she rewarded our knowledgeable waiter by choosing this special accompaniment to her medium rare steak with a side of chips. Steak without chips is like a cream tea without scones… just plain wrong!
We chose a rosé to accompany the meal – the Pinot Grigio Villa Garducci from the Piedmont region which had delicate fruity flavours including peach and raspberry which complemented the simple flavours of both dishes.
After enjoying the delightful mains, we finally moved on to finale of the evening and after surveying the dessert menu, I chose the simple yet colourful option of sorbet and sampled all three flavours on offer that day – cranberry, mandarin and lychee. The cranberry was slightly disappointing as it was not tart enough for my palate but the mandarin was reassuringly refreshing and the lychee stood out as the clear favourite in the taste stakes.
My dining companion ended her meal on a cocoa high with her choice of the Chocolate Trio – a dark chocolate fondant, chocolate sorbet, white chocolate & coffee foam. The fondant was perfectly cooked with its gooey melting middle and the chocolate sorbet was smooth in texture and rich in flavour. The White Chocolate foam was not overpowered by the addition of coffee which was barely there but added the necessary dimension needed with something as sweet as white chocolate. Our only criticism was that the serving of foam was overly generous and slightly overwhelmed the plate and palate.
Island Grill offers a modern British menu with mouth watering flavours inspired by produce from the British Isles. Awarded with 2 AA Rosettes, importance is placed on using ingredients that are sustainably sourced, seasonal and as local as possible. Some of the sustainable practices in Island Grill include only ordering cheese from within forty miles of the hotel (which only recently was a still impressive 100 miles), using day boat fish caught off the Kent coast like my delicious sea bass to simply using suppliers who deliver produce in re-usable crates rather than cardboard boxes.
From a culinary point of view one of the most interesting ways of the restaurant’s sustainability is to cook nose-to-tail and this style of cookery is embraced in the a la carte menu. Highlights from the seasonal menu have included this succulent looking pork belly…
and this beautifully presented tuna dish…
Dishes at Island Grill are prepared and presented with care and consideration, down to serving scoops of ice cream and sorbet in little brandy snap baskets which look delightful on the plate in addition to adding a welcome crunchy texture to an otherwise velvety smooth dessert.
What stood out above all was the extremely reasonable prices compared to the high quality of the food making this restaurant not only ideal for date nights but also perfect for larger gatherings of friends and family. One to definitely impress the in-laws!
Lancaster London, Lancaster Terrace, London W2 2TY
T: 020 7551 6070