With the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next month, let’s just say London has gone royal mad. And what better way to honour the occasion than dinner and drinks at a five-star hotel, that even uses the same suppliers that serve Queen Elizabeth herself? You don’t need to ask me twice.
Ideally located overlooking The Royal Mews of Buckingham Palace, the entrance used by the Royal family, The English Grill at The Rubens at the Palace Hotel is one hell of a looker. Everything about it just screams luxury. But first, we settled down for a welcome drink in the New York Bar, just to get us in the mood. Here, historic paintings take pride of place on the red-painted walls, chandeliers hang from the ceilings and the pinstripe velvet seats were very comfortable indeed. Throw in some cosy lighting, gold accents, live music and you’ve got a great spot to have a light bite or cool cocktail. Speaking of which, we were asked for our favourite tastes and the bar manager rustled us up something bespoke to kick things off. Beginning with ‘sour’, this citrusy little number in a sexy glass was mixed at our table and really packed a punch (that’ll be the gin), plus the ‘sweet’ was, well, theatre at its finest. A blowtorch to the top of a glass-dome infused this Dom Pérignon-based tipple with woodchips, giving it a subtly smoky edge.
We were then welcomed into the lush regency-esque surrounds of The English Grill. In my head, this is what I imagined dining suites in the Titanic to look like, with rich mahogany, plump leather and mirrors aplenty. The atmosphere was buzzing, plus we were given a perfect booth directly opposite the kitchen, where there was a flurry of activity getting our dishes together.
The charming waiting team and sommelier passionately walked us through the menu, offering their recommendations and favourite seasonal specials, plus helping to make those all-important wine pairings a lot easier. Staying true to their promise of signature classics made from the finest produce within the British Isles, my starter of London burrata (£20.15) was soft, fluffy and gorgeous, plus the salad of Isle of Wight-smoked tomato, peach puree, candied chilli and slices of apple was a great contrast. My date ordered the indulgent glazed lobster omelette (£27.95), after hearing its famous status on The English Grill's menu, and the hollandaise sauce made it deliciously creamy, plus the bisque provided bucketloads of flavour. It’s quality stuff, especially as they source all seafood from the iconic Billingsgate market only a few miles away from here.
With English Grill in the title, you know the meat is going to be the main event here, so my date opted for the Steak Diane (£66.75), flambéed at our table for that bit of drama. We were informed of the precise cooking process as the dish came together in front of our very eyes, including when to add the cream, red wine and mushroom for maximum taste: a true work of art. Veggies, don’t think you’re missing out though, as my main of grilled globe artichokes (£26.75) was sensational, from the little jewels of pomegranate and nuggets of hazelnuts to the earthy puffed black rice and decadent king oyster mushrooms. It was well balanced and juicy, plus the hint of lemon was lovely.
It'd be rude not to mention the wines, and due to the pairing with each dish, at one point we actually ended up with more wine than water. But that’s not a bad thing. Highlights include the Sauvignon Blanc Reserve (£14 a glass), from Bouchard Finlayson, The Rubens’ very own vineyard in South Africa and the Mollydooker “The Boxer” Shiraz (£16 a glass), a full and intense red. Top tip, ask the wonderful sommelier for advice as he seriously knows his stuff.
As a nod to Beatrice Tollman, the owner of this luxury group of hotels, we finished the meal by sharing her signature honeycomb homemade ice cream (£9.50), featuring divine scoops of silky-smooth vanilla flecked with crunchy, sweet shards. As we rested back in our seats, bellies suitably stuffed, we wondered how on earth we were ever going to be able to waddle back to Victoria station?
The DesignMyNight Digest
With a history dating back to the 1700s, this beautifully restored London institution is as good as it gets. The service was up there with the best I’ve experienced and everywhere you look, there are cute finishing touches and beauty in absolutely every detail, making this evening very magical indeed. Whether you’re stopping by for a pre-theatre dinner experience or staying in one of their incredible rooms, this royally good spot should be next on your agenda.
💰 The damage: £231 for three courses and wine pairing for two, excluding service.
📍 The location: 39 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 0PS, directly opposite the mews.
👌 Perfect for: Extravagant birthday meals with friends and family.
The English Grill at The Rubens at the Palace Hotel can be found at 39 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 0PS. Book your place here.