When you think of The Dorchester, the first few thoughts that spring to mind is its highly regarded reputation, excellent five star service and that its rich with British tradition. And, when you first think of head chefs, your mind drifts to much loved celebrity chefs like Raymond Blanc or Gordon Ramsay. So when The Grill at The Dorchester relaunched this November with 26-year-old head chef Tom Booton at the helm, it caught many a critic, restauranteur and Dorchester lovers eye.
Despite only being in his mid twenties, Tom Booton has built quite the reputation for himself over his short but sweet culinary years, and you might be surprised to hear that this isn’t his first head chef role. From peeling endless spuds to perfecting the art of much loved crème brûlée, Booton has risen in the ranks over his 11 years in the industry and moves to The Grill at The Dorchester from the same position at Michelin-starred Alyn Williams at The Westbury.
So when arriving on the opening night of The Grill’s relaunch, I knew I was in for a culinary adventure. Booton isn’t the only name that’s been splattered across every foodie magazine, blog and website. The fresh new talent continues throughout with the establishments new restaurant manager, Jennifer Santner, comes with much praise too after receiving the Gold Service Scholarship back in 2016, Adam Nevin joins as sous chef and Eugenio Egorov parading in as head sommelier, all of which are under 30. So the launch was a pretty big deal.
Upon entering The Grill, we were greeted kindly by Jennifer before being shown to our petite table with full view of the whole show. The interiors, all newly refurbished, shine a light on the new modern spirit expressed through Booton’s new menu while still celebrating The Dorchester’s rich history. As with all major refurbishments this year, the room is doused with intimate banquette seating, perfect for cosying up on a chilly winter evening. Upon arriving though, your focus is immediately drawn to the golden chandelier taking centre stage, gracing the ceiling. If you fancy dining counter side, pull up a pew at the Pudding Bar and watch the pastry chefs in action as you indulge in one of their banoffee tarts, or sample Tom’s new classic, ‘Double Decker’ – you’ll have to wait and see what this one involves…
As with all new restaurant openings, anticipation runs high on opening night, and despite this, the whole night ran perfectly from start to finish. After a few minutes, the Champagne cart soon wheeled it’s way around to our table and we were presented with two glasses to flurry our tastebuds for the night ahead.
While we perused the set menu we were greeted with a warming canapé. Being vegan we opted for the tempura encrusted oyster mushroom which was divine and went down swimmingly.
Despite being aptly named ‘The Grill’, Booton’s menu champions British traditions and grill-style cooking with an added modern kick thrown in to tie it all together, with a full set menu dedicated to the veggie fiends. To begin the night, we opted for two dreamy starters. First up, I devoured the baby artichoke salad with loaded skin and truffle, while my partner samples the mysterious, beetroot, ‘ketchup’, ricotta and pecans. Of course, this wasn’t an old shop bought ketchup, Booton had spent months perfecting the consistency and flavour of the nation’s favourite sauce, and it was simply divine.
As for the mains we both went for the pot-roasted cauliflower with black garlic, grapes and hazelnuts. Personally, I’m normally a little dubious when a restaurant substitutes a protein for a vegetable but this dish has restored my reservations and went down perfectly paired alongside a side portion of the glazed celeriac, lentils and maitake.
As our evening began to draw to a close, we enjoyed our surprise dessert presented by one of the pastry chefs, an ensemble of filo pastry, berries and a splash of chocolate. Booton has leap frogged this 88-year-old restaurant into the modern relaunch it deserved and we’re certainly excited to see where this new avenue goes.
Find The Grill at The Dorchester, 53 Park Lane, Mayfair, W1K 1QA, www.thedorchestercollection.com