This weekend I popped in to the iconic, Lancaster London Hotel to try out their ‘Island Grill’ restaurant. The restaurant boasts a central London location – just 5 minutes walk from Paddington Station – and offers a modern, seasonal European menu. It’s also recently been awarded the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s top Three Star rating, thanks to Head Chef Adam Woolven’s vision to create an eco-friendly – yet luxurious – dining experience.
I’ll be honest – Island Grill is not much to look at from the outside; all white limestone and sharp modern architecture. Head indoors though, and the sleek interior is complimented by huge windows which let in plenty of natural light, as well as affording guests some great views over Hyde Park.
We were shown to our table, seated in the window overlooking the park, where I could also get a good view of the cocktail bar and watch my first order being made – a strong and spicy Bloody Mary (£9).
As Pete was driving, he stuck to water – filtered on site and served out of re-usable glass bottles. This has helped the Lancaster London save on using 50,000 plastic bottles a year across the hotel! Amazing what a difference one small change can make, eh?
After taking an irritatingly long time to deliberate over the menu, I finally managed to make up my mind. I ordered the seared tuna and avocado salad (£8.50) to start, while Pete, who was hankering for stodge, chose a creamy vegetarian wild mushroom and fig risotto (£7.50).
My salad was as close to perfect as a salad can get – a generous helping of sliced, sustainably-caught tuna steak, with cherry tomatoes, pickled onion rings & ginger, avocado, a bright citrus dressing & a few sprigs of coriander cress. I am a strange anomaly in that I crave the freshness of salad when I am hungover, and this totally hit the spot.
Pete’s risotto was an opposite sort of dish – creamy and rich – especially with the addition of a cheese crisp garnish. A generous portion for a starter, too!
Then, on to the mains.
I chose the roast breast of Suffolk duck, served halved on beds of red kale with salsify purée, roasted baby carrots, and courgettes, and a lovely, sharp-sweet blackberry jus (£16.50). I don’t eat duck very often, so this was a real treat – beautifully presented too – and I washed it down with a small but delicious glass of Chilean Merlot (£5.25). Hair of the dog, and all that.
We also ordered a side of salty courgette fritters (£3). These were crispy on the outside, yet the baby courgette within was still piping hot with a satisfying bite.
Much as I enjoyed my duck, Pete definitely beat me on the mains; his pan-fried fillet of sea bream was served on top of a generous pile of jet-black squid ink tagliatelle, and finished with fish cream, mussels, and peas (£15.50). The skin on the bream was so crispy and salty! I know what I’ll be ordering next time.
All throughout our meal, the staff at Island Grill were faultless. Our waitress was warm, smiley and attentive, and took the time to explain certain information about the restaurant – such as the fact that they have their own bee hives on the roof, and use their own honey in some of the recipes. Sadly, I didn’t get to try any of these as after two courses, I was completely and utterly stuffed. If I’d had the room, I would have loved to try the honey roast figs with Chantilly cream.
If you’re looking for a classy, reasonably priced restaurant in central London – and if eating sustainably is important to you – make sure you pay a visit to Island Grill. It’s a cracker.
I was invited to Island Grill for the purpose of this blog post and as result all food and drink was complimentary. However, I was not obliged to write a positive review.