Honestly, today luxury guests want food they can identify, and food that is ‘clean’. See the FOUR SEASONS HAMPSHIRE caprese, above. And taste the Maris Piper truffle fries in The Promenade’s Lalique-filled bar at THE DORCHESTER (oh la-la they’re divine). Actually eating at The Dorchester is an overall superb experience. The hotel does have fancy restaurants but ‘snacking’ in The Promenade, which Pierre-Yves Rochon re-designed as a walk through the English countryside, is serene, stylish and very satisfactory. Pair the fries with seared Scottish salmon and an avocado-studded green salad. It comes on pink-floral Royal Crown Derby, ready to be tasted with Robbe & Berking cutlery: the mills are England’s best, Cole & Mason.
Something else worth noting on English hotel food is pushing THE LANGHAM to the forefront. Michel Roux Jr (who oversees the hotel’s dining) is hosting a television series on Channel 4 to find a chef who will actually handle food in The Langham’s Palm Court rear lobby lounge. Great idea but Girlahead has serious issues with the production. To judge, Michel Roux – a mature Caucasian Frenchman and a professional – is helped by two hich-octane ‘specialists’, a black man with a top-only frizzy haircut and a sultry Mediterranean woman who gesticulates as if she is judging Strictly Come Dancing rather than a million-dollar business challenge. Somebody from the hotel’s Revenue Management and a genuine regular hotel customer should have been on the judging panel.
And challenge it is. Last night they eliminated the one of the four semi-finalists who was not outrageous and seemed to be aware of the responsibility of producing, say, a banquet for 100. The audience, and the hotel’s Hong Kong owners, are now left in limbo, waiting to see who Michel Roux and his two fellow judges choose. And good luck. One of the three finalists appeared to suggest an entire menu of goat. GOAT? That might be passable in The Caribbean but not in Central London. Another finalist’s dishes were so beautiful they warranted entry to 2024 Chelsea Flower Show rather than to paying customere’ mouths. Sorry Michel Roux, Girlahead pines for real food, say fries, caprese and simple salmon rather than goat broth and floral arrangements.