Dinner at The Colony Grill – The Beaumont Hotel:
The Colony Grill is not merely a restaurant. It is an experience that transports diners to 1920’s New York. Situated in Mayfair, but a block away from Selfridges and the mayhem of Oxford Street, the restaurant exudes grace and elegance. The Art Deco style begins in The American Bar which one walks through to reach the restaurant itself.
Large prints of sporting activities line the walls – polo, greyhound racing, diving and auto racing among other pursuits. Tobacco coloured leather banquettes, salmon pink tablecloths and napkins, wood panelling, gorgeous glassware, silver and copper serving dishes, waiters in tux and bowties offering tableside service – all create a sumptuous atmosphere. Recreating the traditional American Grillroom, the menu and the attire of the guests attests to the popularity of this style of dining. While most guests had dressed up for the evening, some sat down for dinner in jeans. Burgers and mac and cheese were popular options, but one could also order caviar and lobster.
Looking around the softly lit room, packed on a Saturday evening, the diners were mostly middle-aged but there were a number of young couples on dates too. I made a mental note to bring my mother for lunch. It presents an inviting atmosphere for any occasion.
Part of the Corbin and King stable, The Colony Grill appears to be coming up for its centenary. Yet it has only been open for 4 years. The 5 star, Beaumont Hotel, in which it is housed, was formerly a parking garage. As with its sister restaurants including The Wolseley, The Delaunay and Brasserie Zédel, The Colony Grill confirms Chris Corbin and Jeremy King as the masters of time travel in the hospitality industry.
Settling into a comfy banquette we nibbled on warm, home-baked bread, served in a silver dish along with a pat of butter. We set about perusing the menu which was divided into a number of sections including crustaceans and caviar, American sandwiches, soups and eggs, salads, fish and grilled meats. While there were at least eleven vegetarian options on the menu, a full vegetarian menu was presented alongside.
There were so many items I wanted to try that I was grateful to be saved from indecision by the arrival of Leni Miras, the charming and informative restaurant Manager who not only gave us the warmest welcome, but made some excellent suggestions about how to approach the menu. She highlighted the tableside service which is not found in many restaurants these days and was most informative about the history of the restaurant. We had outstanding service throughout the evening not only from Ms Miras, but from the friendly waiters who refilled water glasses, gave us wine advice and provided the expert tableside service. One waiter informed us on several occasions that items on the menu were homemade; when the final flourish – two bourbon truffles -arrived with coffee, she said ‘I suppose you know by now that these are homemade.’
We postponed our wine order until we had decided on our order and then chose a glass of white to start and one of red to follow. A special mention must be made about the glassware. I do love a beautiful glass and these were so beautifully designed that I asked the Manager where they came from. Clearly, I was not the first to make an enquiry. Art deco in style, they have been designed especially for the restaurant and are not available for purchase. What a shame. I am sure the restaurant would do a roaring trade in selling boxes full.
For Hors D’Oeuvres we chose half a dozen oysters – the Carlingford Lough Rock Oysters were not available so we had La Spéciale de Claires. No matter how often I order oysters in a restaurant, I always feel a thrill of excitement when the waiter arrives to set up the silver frame on which to rest the ice-filled platter with its glistening bivalves. A serving of shallot vinegar and two types of Tabasco were duly placed alongside as well as silver finger bowls.
New York shrimp cocktail was equally glamorous. Seven large, pink prawns were suspended over the rim of an iced filled silver bowl, the centre containing a small china dish with a gently spiced tomato sauce. It might not be refined to use one’s fingers to dip prawns into sauce, but we couldn’t resist. After all, we had such elegant finger bowls. Our waiter suggested a Pinot Grigio, Pulenta Estate 2016 which was suitably floral and refreshing.
If the starters had my pulse racing, I was giddy with delight when the main course arrived tableside. We had followed the Managerial advice that we try the Tomahawk for two. This cut of beef is so called because the meat on the long bone resembles an axe. It looks very dramatic and is the perfect dish to carve at the table. A huge piece of grilled steak (21oz) arrived along with its rib – a ginormous bone I would have liked to take home for the fox family that reside in my garden. The waiter expertly carved the meat into thick slices which he placed in a copper dish.
The meat was well rested, perfectly on the rare side of medium rare as requested, and was very flavourful. It was served with a béarnaise sauce as well as a pepper sauce into which I dipped the crunchy chips. To balance the carnivorous feast we ordered sides of creamed spinach and a gem lettuce salad. Oh how we enjoyed this meal! Of course, it is gluttony to eat so much meat – even my husband sighed with resignation as he tackled the last slice – but if one is going to push the meat boat out then it might as well be top quality. The accompanying Foxglove Cabernet, Santa Cruz, California, was suitably full bodied to accompany the beef.
Needless to say, we were far too full for dessert but needs must. I had my heart set on more tableside service which meant a choice between rum flambéed bananas or pistachio and cherry Baked Alaska. The latter won the day with the meringue being ‘baked’ at the table. Cutting through the meringue I found a ball of pistachio ice cream and cherries inside.
Meanwhile, my husband, having decided on a bespoke Sundae, was presented with a card and pencil. We had a lively debate deciding between eight flavours of ice cream (homemade), ten toppings and six sauces! What a lovely idea. Why should children have all the fun! A sundae glass duly arrived filled with a scoop each of chocolate and salted caramel ice cream, topped with almond nougatine (the type dentists hate) and toasted nut sprinkle. A tiny silver jug of bourbon anglaise accompanied the dish.
Fresh mint tea was served in an attractive glass teapot, the espresso was good. A pair of homemade, chocolate bourbon truffles were irresistible. I noticed two plates piled high with pink candyfloss delivered to a couple of tables. Apparently, this is a special touch for those celebrating a birthday or special occasion. I rather wished it was my birthday. The candyfloss is homemade, of course.
Reluctant to leave this welcoming restaurant, I regretted not having reserved a room for the night upstairs at The Beaumont. We made our way out through the bar, still full of guests, and out into the night. I look forward to a return visit. You can dine at The Colony Grill in your jeans, but my advice is to make an effort for the surroundings. Throw on your glad rags with a piece of art deco jewellery and you will blend right in.
The Colony Grill Room,
8 Balderton Street,
Brown Hart Gardens,
Mayfair W1K 6TF
Reservations: 020 74999499