Sunday, 16 October 2011

Lowndes Bar and Kitchen: torte a lesson

Only worth it if they bring it up to your room.

You know you’re in a Knightsbridge restaurant when you pop outside to take a phone call and find yourself stood next to a Lamborghini Diablo with Monaco number plates. Of course, the fact that you got off the Tube at Knightsbridge and then went to a restaurant just five minutes down the road will also give the game away.

Being a north-London boy I wouldn’t generally make the trip past central London and back out the other side. Knightsbridge and Kensington restaurants tend to be overpriced, aimed as they are at the rich residents and even richer tourists.

And it is these happy-to-pay-£230-a-night tourists that I dined with on Thursday night at the newly opened Lowndes Bar & Kitchen, which is attached to the five-star Jurmeirah Hotel.

It certainly had five-star furnishings, although the fact they were so new gave the room a slightly clinical feel. They had also made the huge mistake of lining the walls with American diner-style settees, which meant that when I leant back I was no less than a metre and a half from my companion and could hardly hear what she was saying over the muzak.

Not that I needed to talk to her. The restaurant itself was entertaining enough. The English of one waiter wasn’t quite good enough to explain to a hotel guest that he couldn’t be served food in the bar seating, our waitress couldn’t open our bottle of Rioja (I really need to branch out) and we had to make an late night call to their PR to prove we were on a review and didn’t have to pay the £110 food bill.

Which brings me to the meal, which was only remarkable for the price. A burger would set you back a staggering £15 and was the cheapest meal on the menu. Looking back I wish I’d tried it so I knew what a £15 burger tastes like, but I think I’d have been disappointed.  

But first I had the world’s smallest scallops – none of which were more than 2cm wide – in a saffron mayonnaise, accompanied by a solitary piece of salad garnish. Had there been a few more, or the scallops less anorexic, it would have been a nice dish.

Ignoring the temptation of a burger I had the duck (£18.50) with a redcurrant jus and sweet potato mash. The latter tasted like it had been boiled in tea, which while not unpleasant didn’t suit the sweet jus at all. The duck was a nice bit of meat but, despite being warned it was served medium rare, it was more the other side of medium and therefore a tad stringy.

My chocolate torte (the waitress’s recommendation) was no better than something out of a tin, although the ice cream was excellent. I hope this was homemade, or else  Cart D’or is nicer than I remember.
So thoroughly unremarkable, completely overpriced and lacking in atmosphere. If you can afford the rooms, you can afford the food, but only as a last resort because in central London, you will always be within 10 minutes walk of a much better meal and a fuller wallet.

Lowndes Bar & Kitchen on Urbanspoon   Square Meal

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