Sometimes all I crave is good food – no fancy culinary fireworks or science infused food. Just plain, simple yet tasty food. And that is exactly what we found when my husband and I visited The English Grill. Located a short walk from Victoria Station, The English Grill sits inside the luxurious The Rubens at the Palace Hotel, which offers hearty yet sophisticated dining for all occasions.
The Rubens at the Palace Hotel has a grand dining room, The English Grill, which is an essential dining destination for those seeking time-tested dining excellence and heritage. After a 5-year, multi-million pound refurbishment of the hotel and restaurant, I was excited to try out the food headed by executive chef Ben Kelilher and his brigade of 28 chefs.
Before we tucked into our 3-course meal at The English Grill, we headed towards the Cavalry Bar for a quick drink first. The bar overlooks the Royal Mews of Buckingham Palace which brings a stunning view into the room.
The bar, which also serves afternoon tea during the day, is plush with a rich red colour palette. With high gold chandeliers, soft light fixtures and classic paintings, the room brought a very English feel to the trendy lit-up bar creating a real majestic setting.
As it was Friday, it was time to unwind and before us stood one of the entertainers for the evening. Funky and chilled 80’s & 90’s classic belted out, relaxing the guests and getting us ready for the weekend. I thought this brought a nice touch to the evening – you just can’t beat a really good live singer.
We were unsure what cocktail to order, so Alberto the bar manager, helped us pick a spirit and promised he would take care of the rest. I opted for a gin-based cocktail whilst my husband went for whisky. Whilst we waited for our drinks, we were brought fresh snacks to munch on.
After a couple of minutes, our drinks arrived. In trendy classic cocktail glasses, we couldn’t wait to try out the bartender’s creations. My gin-based cocktail was fresh and infused with gin, fresh lemon and Cointreau. My husband’s whisky-based cocktail was right up his street, filled with dry vermouth and fresh orange peel.
Once we finished our cocktails, we were taken to The English Grill restaurant. The restaurant itself embraces the best of English tradition and design with high ceilings and plush furnishings. Smack bang in the middle of the restaurant is the kitchen, where you can see the chefs hard at work. Filled with trendy copper lights, the kitchen brought a modern touch to the restaurant’s classic setting.
Our waiter for the evening was Shane, who was attentive and friendly. He informed us that their menu was designed around premium seasonal produce. The ingredients used in the restaurant are locally sourced from the highest quality English suppliers, including meats from Aubrey Allen, a Royal Warrant holder to Her Majesty The Queen.
In the middle of the restaurant, with an array of vibrant colours, lays a display of fresh fruits, vegetables, breads and beautifully handcrafted flowers. The display is changed every 2-3 days, always displaying seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Shane showed us the menu and said that we were in for a treat. There were so many amazing things on the menu and I genuinely couldn’t wait to tuck in.
Whilst our starters were being prepared, we were given a small dish filled with fresh crudités at the table accompanied with a basil dip. We had thin slices of peppers, garden carrots, courgettes, lettuce and cherry tomatoes, which were all fresh. The basil dip was rich and extremely moreish. A perfect start to the evening already!
Whilst we were munching on our raw vegetables, Shane brought us a small basket of freshly baked bread. We had a variety of bread at our disposal and I was in heaven. Instead of butter, we were given a mackerel and butter paté. I was a bit apprehensive at first but the paté was rich and buttery and worked really well with all the different types of bread. The bread basket contained onion and cape seed (sort of like a seeded cracker) slices, which were packed full of flavour and crunch. Next we had mini crusty rolls with soft bread in the middle. My favourites were the little mini baguettes that were light and still very warm from the oven. The paté melted easily on this.
We were in for a treat as we had our very own trusty sommelier Vincent at hand. With years of experience in the field, he assured us that we would be drinking the very best of what South Africa has to offer. Not having a great knowledge of wines, Vincent took his time to explain to use where the wines come from and I even got a book to explain it all.
With our starters, we were given white wines, all from Bouchard Finlayson, an award-winning South African vineyard. In front of us lay different tastes and textures of wine ranging from a Chardonnay to a Sauvignon Blanc which had a minerally rich taste which was crisp and which brought green apple and fig to the palate.
For my starter, I went for the smoked salmon. I love smoked salmon and was delighted to see a bespoke silver trolley head to my table ready to be carved in front of me.
Shane carefully carved thin layers of Scottish and Irish smoked salmon using a long flat knife against a fork. It was expertly done.
To go with my smoked salmon, I was given a mix of accompaniments. First was some finely chopped sweet red onion, yellow chopped boiled egg yolks, finely chopped albumen – the white part of the boiled egg – and fresh capers.
Above is my plate when all the components were added. It came with some fresh parsley, toasted brown bread triangles and lemon. The smoked salmon on the left was the classic Scottish salmon, which can be found everywhere in the UK. It has that melt-in-the-mouth freshness. On the right was the Irish smoked salmon, something that I have never had before and was surprised. It was full-bodied and rich in flavour. It had a creamier texture then the Scottish one and in all honestly, I thought that was a winner right there.
My husband went in for the lobster ‘Arnold Bennett’, named after the British novelist. With an added twist, chunky fresh and juicy lobster pieces were scattered in the cheesy rich omelette which melted in the mouth. It came in a small frying pan, which was the perfect size as the dish itself was super rich and decadent.
After our appetisers and starters, we were stuffed so took a breather. Vincent kept us company and brought us another set of wines – this time we were exploring the reds. First we had the Galpin Peak Pinot Noir. This was fruity to the nose and had aromas of raspberry, cherry and fruits of the forest. Next we tried the Hannibal 2014 and were lucky enough to try the 2015 which just came out. This had a rich and deep red cherry flavour with a little spice and brought a whiff of truffle on the nose. The red wines were delicious, rich and creamy, making it accompany our mains very well.
For mains, my husband was without doubt eyeing the Kobe (from the Wagyu cows in Japan) beef fillet on the menu. He ordered this medium rare and went for a Madeira and truffle sauce. It came accompanied with some fresh spinach. The Kobe beef, as you would have guessed, melted like butter in the mouth. It was flavoursome and tender, everything we imagined it to be. The Madeira and truffle sauce was stunning. It was full bodied and rich.
After my smoked salmon starter, I was still craving fish so went for the catch of the day – plaice. My plaice was pan fried in loads of butter – heaven. The skin was crispy on the outside and the fish flaky, fresh and moist. It came accompanied with a butter sauce.
To go with our mains, Shane ordered us some of his recommended sides. To accompany my pan-fried plaice, I went for the mashed potato with butter and truffle. This was outlandishly good. For a bit of green, Shane recommended the creamed spinach which was creamy and moreish. My husband went for the triple-cooked chips which were amazing. It was crispy on the outside with a deep golden brown colour and fluffy in the middle. Perfect to soak up the remaining Madeira and truffle sauce.
We just couldn’t come to an amazing place like this and not try out the dessert! My husband went straight in for the homemade strawberry cheesecake. The cheesecake was smooth and the biscuit base rich and crispy. It was topped with fresh strawberries in a strawberry coulis.
I wanted to go for something light and refreshing so opted for the Eton mess with fresh strawberries, blueberries, crispy meringue pieces and edible flowers.
This is one of the best restaurants I have visited. The service was immaculate, Shane and Vincent couldn’t be more accommodating. With a wide variety of fresh produced, classic British dishes cooked to perfection and a range of different wines, you won’t be able to fault it.
The English Grill
39-41 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 0PS