They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but when it comes to this London institution there has clearly been some sort of Pavlov conditioning, if The Goring’s new Michelin star is anything to go by.
It’s the kind of place that sparkles street side: you know something special lies within. Where commuting trainers have to be swapped for brogues or heels, tights suitably hitched, ties stiffened and shirts tucked in. It’s a place that demands a certain sense of decorum. It’s also, though, incredibly relaxed.
Far from the hushed whisper of many a luxury hotel, fine-dining offering, this restaurant has an audible buzz. And on our Monday night visit there’s everyone from couples, to young families (complete with well-dressed child), and big groups parked up, ready and armed with their eating irons.
The decor is classic but in a contemporary way – all the shades of grey, murals Wallpaper* magazine would be proud of, and tall, grand ceilings. The service, too, follows suit. Well dressed, pristinely polished staff but with a cheeky charm.
Unlike many Michelin-starred joints there is no tasting menu – rather the torture of choosing from a fixed price a la carte – a clever way to encourage return, perhaps, or a way to appease residents (£56.50 for three courses). Either way, choosing the start note to your meal will be tricky. Quail had serious flavour from the off on our visit – with juicy little legs, picked pig’s trotter in a melting meat cigar, a slither of foie gras, a perfectly symmetrical fried quail’s egg and crisp rasher of bacon standing tall and proud, the lot dressed with meat liquor made piquant with sharp cider vinegar.
Smoked eel risotto, too, sung of land and sea: creamy rice, smoky fish and a vibrant grassy green colour and backnote from fresh parsley. Scottish girolles added to heady umami scents, while a salt-cured egg yolk was the final touch of decadence and tip of the chef’s hat. Executive chef Shay Cooper was saying ‘I like to eat well, now you can too’. Charmer.
The sommelier will match per course for you or if you’re a confident sort and know what you like to drink as well as you know what you like to eat, the wine list is extensive and accomplished (30 pages on our last count) and there’s an impressive selection of seriously fine wines by the glass, too.
The modern European theme contains with apace with the main courses and it was salt marsh lamb with fried sweetbreads, courgette, cauliflower and a Stichelton purée that caught our eye – an umami assault on the tastebuds. But whatever you order, rest assured it will be skillfully cooked, artfully presented, and warmly served.
Desserts are no afterthought – an apple sorbet on the side of one plate, for example, is more appley than any globe you’ve ever previously crunched into.
You can retire to the lounge (and you should, just for the people watching) but if you happen to visit before the end of February, you should really check out the pop-up St Moritz Ski Bar on the hotel’s outdoor terrace. Mixing old-school glamour with that trademark contemporary twist, it’s got waiters in vintage ski jumpers, wooden sled tables, antique ski screens, sheepskins, lanterns, the scent of pine, and thick cashmere rugs off-set by Ella and Frank playing in the background. (There’s heating, too, don’t panic.) Make ours a snowball, will you?
The Goring, Beeston Place, London SW1W 0JW
Words by Laura Rowe
Published December 2015