Taking orders – Great British Restaurant (GBR)
by Helena Lang
Want a calm, quiet little bolthole for an intimate dinner or catch-up with friends? This tucked-away dining room underneath the gorgeous Dukes Hotel is just the place, with excellent service, chic furnishings and a please-all menu with simple British ingredients given a chef-inspired twist. Helena Lang booked a table to find out more.
Where is it?
Dukes Hotel sits on a little side street in classy St James's in London. Amidst the art galleries, gentlemen’s outfitters and investment bank offices, it’s an oasis of comfort and cosseting. Downstairs is Great British Restaurant (GBR) – a modern, glamorous space with an all-day menu.
What's all the fuss about?
Norfolk-born executive head chef Nigel Mendham is a master of taking delicious British ingredients and creating high-end dining dishes full of tempting, yet familiar, flavour.
What's the place like?
It’s a basement restaurant that’s been given a brilliant makeover with pewter velvet banquettes, plenty of mirrors, and crystal to bounce light around the room. There’s a bar with stools to perch on if you fancy a cocktail or two, and a private dining room if you’re treating the family or hosting a business event.
What did you eat and drink?
Plenty of British ingredients get name-checked on the menu, from goat’s curd from Bagborough Farm in Somerset, to asparagus from Portwood Farm in Norfolk, and Hodmedod's, the grain and legume growers in Suffolk. We kicked off with a very un-British aubergine puree, though, garnished with walnuts and pomegranate seeds that came with very moreish sourdough crackers.
Our second starter was wedges of hispi cabbage garnished with dollops of the Bagborough Farm goat’s curd, roasted hazelnuts and a thyme and orange-infused oil. Our main courses tasted delicious, but didn’t take the prettiest of pictures. Monkfish scampi had been fried in batter using Curious Beer from Kent and was light, piping hot, crispy and irresistible with a caper and parsley mayonnaise and a metal tub of hand-cut chips. My roast chicken was summer comfort food at its best, with a celeriac puree, roasted celeriac and chicken croquetta, and luscious, rich gravy.
Two cracking desserts finished off the meal. The first was a platter of blackberry and apple delights: stewed fruit, sorbets, shortbread and buttermilk all assembled in a painterly way on the plate. The second, a play on rhubarb and custard: the Yorkshire rhubarb cooked down to a compote and served with a pair of pillowy meringues, a rhubarb gel, sorbet and generous dollops of clotted cream.
A South African rosé wine – Circumstance Cape Coral – washed it all down perfectly on the warm summer’s evening.
The pairing of the rosé wine with the rhubarb dessert was a match made in heaven.
How to book
Visit gbrrestaurantslondon.com or call 0207 491 4840