It was time, thought the gal, for quintessential English food in the bastion of tradition, namely The Rib Room in Jumeirah Carlton Tower, London. Amazingly the restaurant, which specialises in salmon and oysters as well as beef, has been here since the luxury hotel‘s opening, way back in 1961: the Rib Room has kept its name, and its reputation, though it was re-done in 2011 by Martin Brudnizki, and now it has fabulous shutters from Paul Reynolds’ Capella Shutter Company. Here we are, then, in the heart of Knightsbridge, ready for an English meal. There is only one hiccup. The first two courses are from north of the border, in Scotland. But Loch Fyne, together with Forman’s, is one of the two top smoked salmon brands, and here, as a tartare, the oak-smoked salmon was presented as an art palate first, and mixed table-side.
Next came the signature roast rib of beef with Yorkshire pudding. And the beef too was Scottish, from The Queen‘s supplier, Donald Russell, king of mail-order beef perfection – the company is run by a very efficient German, Hans Baumann, and I loved going to visit the facility, in Aberdeen, a few years ago. We of course drank French, Ch Cantenac Brown 2007 Margaux. Then we did finish with a really English special, an Eton Mess, as served at the annual Eton–Harrow cricket match. Crack open the crystallized shell and inside is, well, a gooey mess. I was with Robert Touzel, born in the Channel Islands: we talked about the hotel’s own-label gin, specially distilled by Will and Lucy Lowe at The Cambridge Distillery, presumably in that seat of learning.
About 70 percent of all diners here are locals, some using it as their pub, so to speak. It makes good sense: you can get a two-course set menu for £25, adding a £10 supplement if you have the beef, and £10, also, if you want three courses. You do not have to be carnivore – there is also a spectacular seafood array. I enjoyed looking across from our table to the bar area, lit from behind the counter with all its bottles. I also liked the fact that acoustics are so good you cannot hear what the next table is saying. If I lived nearby I would certainly pop in regularly, especially when there are promotions. Coming up is the Botticelli exhibition at the nearby Victoria & Albert Museum, scheduled to run March 5th through to July 3rd, 2016. During that time, lunch here, and, by prior arrangement, get VIP exhibition tickets. Alternatively, and even more enticing for out-of-towners, stay overnight on the hotel’s Botticelli package, and again get VIP exhibition tickets.
Ah, staying here – see the video, below. This is the kind of luxury hotel that knew, without asking, that I would like to use the gym before its 6.15 a.m. opening (and when I arrived there were no fewer than three night staff waiting for me). My early room service breakfast came with two omelettes, one white and one yellow (which would you like, with a smile?). And there were yellow roses on the table, and I read again the card that was on my bed last night – ‘Tomorrow comes with a whole new light’. Sure enough, dawn was coming up as I passed, yet again, Lavender Green’s stunning floral display in the hotel’s main lobby, and headed out to the airport.