Union Jacks and red telephone boxes aside, Intercontinental London Park Lane is a total shrine for quintessential Britishness. As the former playground of Queen Elizabeth II, what with the hotel’s location being her former childhood residence, there’s a certain grandness encompassing the Mayfair staple. Inside lies Theo Randall, a restaurant tucked away from the marble floors and chandeliers of Intercontinental London Park Lane’s main drag.
A quick aperitif chosen from a busy collection of ‘build-your-own’ Negroni offerings saw us seated in the elegant dining space, which is certainly not somewhere you’d don a Timbaland or trainer. The restaurant, which has been open for some 13 years, is headed up by Michelin-star bearing Theo Randall, a man who knows that, often, Italian food is the key to a consumers heart. He quite literally had me at hello as seeing him still wielding a knife and pushing out food behind the pass over a decade on proved this is a man that champions perfection.
The atmosphere in the restaurant is subtle. It’s not a Madison or a Galvin Hop with a buzzy, London vibe and post-work drinkers grabbing espresso martini’s, but more a space far removed from the hustle and bustle, with servers walking around clad in clean cut suits and smiles. There are no windows in the eatery – perhaps a strange concept for some yet I believe it created a cosiness which was aided by light pastel colours filling the room as a result of the decor.
The menu at Theo Randall is, at first, intimidating but this is perhaps due to roaring appetites and growling tummies as opposed to overly complex descriptions. You’ve got all you’d expect from an Italian, with the menu following an antipasti, primi and secondi pattern.
Burrata is a must. The starter and its red peppers, farina, Swiss chard and Taggiasche olives made for a fresh and delicious dish that injected a real dose of classic Italian heartiness into the meal. For the main we plumped for fish, needing some goodness to offset the wine consumption that was also going on at our table. Another impressive dish was the wood roasted turbot which came with parsley, capers, roasted Sicilian red peppers and rainbow chard. The big slab of fish was meaty and moreish and highlighted the culinary prowess of Randall, seen at this restaurant since 2006.
We explored various wine pairings whilst dining. A sucker for something that lingers around sweet but not being sickly, I was given a Gavi with my bruschetta and a sparkling prosecco with the calamari, all of which worked a treat. Perhaps the best pairing was the Sicilian Sauvignon Blanc which produced floral flavours ideal for a spring meal, working marvellously with my roasted sea bream. Theo has personally overseen the extensive wine list that features 90% Italian varietals and boy were the ones we tried good.
I’d go back – that’s without a doubt. The atmosphere and unpretentious Italian fare makes for a divine place to celebrate a milestone, be it birthday or anniversary. Perhaps the most memorable part of the Theo Randall experience was the service. It was attentive without being overbearing and tales were shared with us by the well-travelled waiting staff as wine was poured and dishes put down. Everyone trotted about with brimming smiles which complimented the already gorgeous atmosphere inside.
Theo Randall can be found at InterContinental, 1 Hamilton Place, W1J 7QY, www.parklane.intercontinental.com