It’s always intriguing to revisit places that you haven’t been for a while – memories are rather ephemeral (*cough* when not blogged *cough*) and in the case of the Royal Lancaster Hotel, a multi-million pound refurbishment has transformed the hotel to my remembrances. This time we gathered in the Island Grill Restaurant on a grey old London day for a taste of their fresh lunchtime menu, overlooking Kensington Gardens & Hyde Park. Disclaimer: We were invited to lunch, but as ever, all thoughts, images and fork twirlings are very much my own.
It’s funny, once I met up in Lancaster Gate (it couldn’t be more handy to the Underground Station) with my ladies who lunch, the thoughts of drizzly, cold skies fair left my head. We settled in at our table (after a quick tour through the hotel and peek into the Park Suite – keep reading for that) and perused the extensive menu.
The Island Grill Restaurant in the Royal Lancaster Hotel serves modern, locally-sourced British dishes with a focus on sustainability. The menu (awarded two AA Rosettes and three stars from the Sustainable Restaurants Association) uses fresh, local ingredients that change with the seasons. With floor-to-ceiling windows facing Hyde Park, you feel like you’re in the boughs of the nearby trees.
We began with a glass of something bubbly all round – bar the Angie with her gorgeous (and still then secret) bump – of the Hampshire located Classic Reserve sparkling wine from Hattingley Valley.
I’ve got to be honest, I basically fancied everything on the nibbles and starters menu, so waited until the rest of the table ordered (that way I knew what I could steal a forkful of) before ordering half a dozen of the chilli and garlic scallops and a warm, freshly baked London Bakery whole Sourdough loaf “for the table”. Really, it was just for the scallop’s dressing, and it’s the best decisions that I’ve made all year. Italians call it fare la scarpetta, or to make the little shoe, referring to the small piece of bread used to mop up the last of the sauce on your plate.
B went for the surprising crisp pork puff with barbequed apple sauce, expecting perhaps a pastry puff stuffed with pork, but getting a freshly air-popped pork scratching.
Across the table, Sima & Angie decided on the Wild Mushroom on toast, served apple balsamic, wild garlic and a surprise soft poached egg, all on sourdough.
We thought we’d thoroughly (accidentally) test the vegetarian credentials of the menu, and were pleasantly surprised by the variety. I ordered the Quinoa and wild mushroom parcels served in a mushroom broth with braised fennel.
Binny ordered the crisp polenta with heritage tomato chutney and crisp sage…
…and Sima enthused over her roasted cauliflower steak with caper & raisin dressing and pinenut salad. Angie went for the grilled free-range chicken seasoned with mushroom and rosemary – and then we ordered a few extras like chips and the heritage tomato salad.
Now, I don’t want to become accusatory, but the tomato salad was kept down the other end of the table it was enjoyed so much.
Completely unrushed in the Island Grill Restaurant, we perused the dessert menu, playing the ‘I’ll order if you order’ game that everyone already knows the answer to before they even begin playing it – and ordered a generous farmhouse cheese board, plus the vegan chocolate and ginger sponge where the ganache stole the pudding show.
Our lovely guide had taken us through the beautifully refurbished hotel – and you may notice the honey bee theming throughout.
We tiptoed up the beautiful pastel Park Suite on the 17th floor…
…admiring the views over the Italian Gardens found on the fringe of Kensington Gardens, and views of London, even with the grey foggy day.
I mean, just look. Even the bathroom had glorious views.
But, the piece de resistance? The view over the 10 beehives that have inspired the hotel decor. I love how hotels around the UK are really embracing this idea of urban honey – it’s ecologically friendly bumping up essential dwindling UK bee populations, helps the flora and fauna of all of the nearby London parks and creates delicious honey.
On the Royal Lancaster Hotel’s doorstep, after you’ve enjoyed lunch at the Island Grill there are some lovely London places to visit – Kensington Palace, Leinster Gardens – a London curiosity with a secret in plain sight and the Elfin Oak which literary lovers will delight in.
When booking hotels, do you take eco-credentials and sustainability into consideration?
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