DINING REVIEW: THE ISLAND GRILL LUNCH AT THE ROYAL LANCASTER, LANCASTER GATE
Ad disclaimer: I dined at Island Grill in exchange for this review. I am always 100% honest in my dining reviews, so read on for the full lowdown!
I recently took my friend Karoline for lunch at Island Grill, a contemporary restaurant and bar located within the recently refurbished Royal Lancaster London. This new dining hot spot overlooks Hyde Park in all its springtime glory, boasting an all-day Modern European menu and seperate bar menu. There’s a succinct and affordable set menu for those seeking a casual lunch or dinner with friends, colleagues or a hot date; expect fresh and sustainable light dishes with a seasonal focus. If you’re with someone you’d rather not dedicate several hours to, head to the bar area for a quick Chilean Chardonnay and some Salt and Pepper Squid with Lemon Mayo - you can always commit to a more filling meal later on, depending on how things go.
Karoline and I were gasping for a little calm in the London storm on this particular week day lunch time - she’d just quit her job to pursue a luxury candle venture and I was seriously jet-lagged from my 6am flight in from Edinburgh. It had been a long week of conference calls, wholesale chat, revenue forecasts, stilleto injuries and an obscene amount of Nespresso. It was only Tuesday. Wholesome food and a decent bottle of Sauvignon were certainly in order.
Island Grill’s set menu is available Monday to Saturday from 12-6pm and it’s a steal at just £17 for 2 courses or £19.50 for 3 courses, including a glass of wine or 1/2 pint of beer. As much as I love my Mayfair favourites, it’s nice to enjoy lunch in a five-star hotel restaurant without feeling as though you could have bought a new Hermés bangle for the same price as your limp cerviche and so-soft-it-was-probably-dead-in-the-tank-for-days lobster.
Island Grill’s set menu features three tempting starter options: Cured Scottish Salmon served with a selection of kales, fennel and Gracburn cheese; Baked Beetroots and Goats Curd Salad topped with English apple balsamic; Wild Mushrooms on Toast with a poached hens egg. Karoline, with a penchant for magenta, opted for the bright and beautiful beetroot dish. Feeling wild, I went for the wild mushroom dish and it was like a warm hug on a chilly afternoon, fabulously flavoured and 10/10 for the poach. My knife-through-the-yolk Boomerang prompted many of my followers to send me the salivating emoji via Instagram, which is always one of my main aims.
For the mains, the Island Grill are serving up Smoked Salmon with Colcannon and rain mustard sauce; Braised Lamb Belly with broccoli and grilled spring cabbage; Quinoa and Mushroom Dumplings with mushroom broth and fennel. Karoline and I were enticed by the dumplings, which were delightfully squidgy, see-through and spectacular. The mushroom broth accompaniment was a surprisingly suitable replacement for soy sauce and equally as flavoursome; fennel added a wild spring twist. We loved it.
Desserts on offer: Lemon Meringue Pie; Chocolate and Ginger Sponge; Bread and Butter Pudding. I skipped dessert as I was on the pre-holiday ‘Watch it Victoria’ diet, although I saw serveral sweet treats pass me by and felt an overpowering magnetic force at work within me. I think they call it cake lust.
Restaurant sides at Island Grill are an additional £4 each: Sea Salt Chunky Chips, Steam Tender Stem Broccoli with chilli & garlic oil, Baby Leaf Salad and Rocket & West Sussex cheese. I ordered some broccoli - a great way to counteract the sinfulness of the Sauvignon.
Two hours later: Karoline and I had bonded over vegetable-based dishes and we’d come up with a fabulous business idea that will change the lives of women all across the city. I don’t know what was in those Quinoa and Mushroom Dumplings, but something tells me I need to speak to the chef. Our productivity and positivity levels had tripled.