Gridiron by Como, London W1: restaurant review
We try flame-grilled steak, deep red wine with a salty kiss of liquorice, and cheese- and pork-laden sides at this Mayfair hotel restaurant
Looking for restaurants in Mayfair, London? Read our review of this live-fire grill restaurant, Gridiron by Como in London, and check out more suggestions for eating in Mayfair here.
Gridiron in a nutshell: Following hot (literally) on the heels of the many other live-fire grill restaurants to open in 2018, Gridiron by Como caters to those who like to be well-fed and well-oiled.
This new hotel restaurant is a collab between Richard H Turner (you’ll best know him as Hawksmoor exec chef) and Colin McSherry (previously of Nuala, and before that Fat Duck, The Ledbury and Murano).
What's the vibe?
Taking over the spot of the former Met Bar (cool cats will remember it was the place to be in Mayfair in the Nineties and Noughties), Gridiron’s drama comes from its open kitchen, complete with real fire, flanked by a marble counter, dark woods, and blood-red and racing-green seating.
What's the food like?
The stuff of death-row dining dreams. There are snacks and starters – the likes of crispy fried scampi with a jalapeño tartare (good) and creamy white crab meat on crunchy toast with a slick of grassy lovage oil and a translucent lardo blanket (better). But, if you must, save room for the mains (simple but superb) and as many sides (outstanding) as you dare.
Not bowing to the current flexitarian persuasion of many a London diner, there’s little for veggies and diddly for vegans – meat here reigns king. Highland sirloin comes served medium rare, as chef recommends, on the bone and with a just-right kiss of smoke. It’s joined on the menu by Middle White pork, Barnsley hogget and venison saddle, as well as a few more steaks, but we’re sidetracked by roasted turbot – sticky, gelatinous, and bobbing decadently in a creamy, roasted chicken butter sauce.
Desserts are familiarly classic (and rib sticking), from sticky toffee pudding to banana eton mess. English honey tart with clotted cream fills the brief if you like things teeth-achingly sweet, otherwise opt for the chocolate mousse. Light in texture, dark in flavour, it comes with a biscuity chocolate rubble, sharp blackberries and olive oil.
And the drinks?
The drinks here should get just as high a billing as the food, with brothers Max and Noel Venning of Dalston’s Three Sheets behind the cocktails, and esteemed food and wine writer Fiona Beckett all over le vin. We start with a clear, silky White Russian with smooth vodka, coffee made mellow by miso, and clarified milk. It’s the best interpretation of this classic that we’ve tried.
The staff, too, know their stuff. Luke, our very enthusiastic server, knew terroir through to taste, with every glass he recommended. First a crunchy, nutty 2017 pecorino for the seafood starters; then a buttery chardonnay (the Mâcon-Prissé Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon 2016, from Burgundy) with a hint of grapefruit for the fish; and a superb salty syrah (Aléofane Crozes-Hermitage 2017) with a lick of liquorice on the finish for the steak.
olive tip: Order all the sides. Beef-dripping galette potatoes – similar in style to these – are as rich in flavour and as golden and crisp as you could expect from this supremely trendy multi-layered chip. Mashed potato weighs so heavy with Tunworth (a super-rich, British-style camembert with home-grown funk) it’s more like aligot (aka heaven). It gets better, though, topped with sticky braised pig’s trotter and its gravy, and spiked with the crispiest crackling. That, friends, is what you call a culinary mic drop. Even a kohlrabi, celery and parsley salad is exceptionally good – refreshing, crisp and light (and made better with more cheese, this time Spenwood sheep’s cheese, dense and nutty, like parmesan). The creamed spinach, too, is served with perfect bite, lemony sharpness, and enough nutmeg and salt to know the chefs here know how to season properly. Porcini bread sauce is pure umami. This is food to make winter bearable.
Old Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 1LB
Words by Laura Rowe
Photos by Laura Linder