Think Park Lane and your mind with conjure images of The Dorchester Hotel, the long tree lined road hugging the perimeter of one of the most beautiful city park anywhere in the world, supercars everywhere you look and one of the most lucrative spots on the monopoly board. There is one common theme, lavish luxury. The same can be said for the culinary delights that are accommodated between Marble Arch and Green Park.
Marble Arch is the location of our latest fine dining experience and like most others on Park Lane, we are in a hotel – The Marriot, visiting Lanes of London. On a warm summers evening we fought through crowds of tourists and rounded a quite corner to find a very smart marble porch complete with ‘Lanes of London’ outlined in mosaic putting any welcome mat to shame. If that was not enough, a gigantic flag finished in regal green hung from a flag pole that would have been at home at any embassy that you could stumble across in nearby Mayfair.
Inside things are just as impressive. There is an instant atmosphere of decadence and you feel as if the next corner you turn you could see a scene from Goodfellas playing out, pinstriped suits, Fedoras, Cohibas and all. There are booths upholstered in green leather, wooden paneled walls and a quarries worth of marble from the floor to the table tops.
The menu is not full of surprises. There are all the dishes you would expect to see at a British Eatery. Wasting no time myself and my elegant companion were met with our orders ‘For The Table’ – seared salmon in teriyaki sauce and mushroom risotto balls. On first bites initial impressions were a little salty but very pleasant, the teriyaki really impressing. A great way to start the culinary journey we were embarking upon. Starters were up, Atlantic blue crab cakes and marinated salmon – classics.
The presentation of the salmon dish was far from the typical simple fish starter. It was something that was fit for MOMA NYC with the thin salmon and the flavors were just as bombastic with a kick of fiery wasabi and lemon. The salmon was a hit and the crab cakes certainly did not disappoint either. There could have been a little more crab meat but the small dollops of flavored sauces were appropriately citrus based and complimented the crab with sublime balance. We were suitably impressed. Bring on the mains.
After great deliberation of what to order, Gressingham duck breast among many others, we opted for vegetable gnocchi and pan fried sea bass. Expectations following the entrees and starters were high. As the plates were laid to rest it appeared the attention to detail of the first two courses had somewhat slipped.
The vegetable gnocchi portion was slightly intimidating and the texture indicated slight over cooking. Combined with a residual oil pooled at the bottom of the plate it was a challenge to compete the course. The sea bass looked promising and was presented in a neat stack on a foundation of vegetables. The fish had a slight shine to it, upon further inspection it was a thin layer of oil, the skin and surface of the slithers of flesh were crispy. When digging deep into the veg we discovered more oil that robbed the vegetables of any flavor, a slight disappointment given the strength of the first two courses.
They say the proof is in the pudding and Lanes of London had to deliver – it did. Made up of old favorites we awaited the arrival of a chocolate and salted caramel torte as well as a vanilla crème brûlée. As the meal began it ended, the desserts looked fantastic and finished the evening on a great high.
Concluding our visit to Lanes of London is a little difficult. As you would have gathered, were were impressed by everything from the decor to the service and six of the eight dishes we tasted were great. Given how special the location is and the surprisingly low prices given the quality it is difficult to say that Lanes of London is not worth a visit. We will certainly be back to try a couple of different mains.