The festive season is upon us and what better way to celebrate than with a spot of festive dining? At this time of year, I love nothing more than visiting London and fully embracing the holiday spirit by hunting down Christmas lights, having mulled wine at winter wonderland and going to a fancy restaurant for a festive feast. This year we experienced some festive dining at Lanes of London, a modern London restaurant housed within London Marriott Hotel on Park Lane.
As you enter through the festively decorated late Edwardian mansion block you are immediately struck by the character and charm of the restaurant. It has a classic British vibe with antique features next to modern furnishings. It has a warm and welcoming atmosphere and staff are on hand to greet you and check your coat. It was the perfect spot for dining after a day of Christmas holiday fun in London.
Once seated and with a glass of fizz in hand, we opted for the ‘Winter Warmer menu’ as it had all the Yuletide touches we were looking for. This menu cost £35pp and showcases fresh, seasonal dishes from a range of British produce. There is an affordable wine list on offer, as well a selection of cocktails and craft beers on the drinks menu. We ordered a bottle of Esporão Alandra Branco, [£27 for a bottle], a white wine from the Alentejo region of southern Portugal with aromatic notes of white peach and orange peel.
We then started with smoked trout with keta caviar, saffron crème fraîche and parsley tuille. This dish was full of the delicate flavours you might expect from smoked trout, with the crème fraîche acting as a marvellous addition, balancing the slightly salty taste.
We also feasted upon quail breast with smoked potato, stilton and pear. Whilst the flavour combinations were well executed the quail breast wasn’t quite as pink in the middle as I prefer and as a result, was a little dryer than I would like. The smoked potatoes more than made up for this and were incredibly rich in flavour.
For our main courses, we opted for turkey ballantine and charred sea bass. The turkey ballantine was accompanied by stuffing, bacon and sprout fricassée, roast potatoes and cranberry sauce. My immediate reaction to the dish was that it could use a splash of colour to make it more visually appealing, perhaps throw in a carrot or two to make it pop a little. Given that enjoyment of food is about more than taste, I thought this dish was a little lacking in aesthetic qualities. However, what was lacking in visual was certainly made up for by taste.
The turkey was incredibly moist and moreish, there’s always the ‘drying out danger’ with turkeys and I have been served some rather parched turkey slices in restaurants previously. It was marvellous that in this case, the chef had managed to serve up a thoroughly juicy plate of turkey for the holidays. The accompaniments were equally as tasty, I am normally an avid avoider of sprouts as a rule but the bacon and sprout fricassée was a crispy and well-caramelized addition to the plate. I managed to finish every last bit, unheard of for a sprout hater like me. You might well convert me yet Lanes of London.
The charred sea bass came with sweetcorn, crab bisque, lovage and trumpet mushroom. The chef had managed to balance a crispy skin with a soft flaky texture for the sea bass, making it an absolute pleasure to eat. The standout component of this dish though was the crab bisque, a creamy and luxurious bisque that did not overpower the flavour of the sea bass. Both main courses had portions are in line with what you might expect from a modern British menu and left enough room for the all-important desserts!
Clearly, much effort has gone into creating Instagrammable Christmas themed desserts on this menu. Our Chocolate bauble and Bailey’s ganache had an excellent presentation and vibrancy that was frankly out of kilter with our previous dishes. Obviously, puddings at Lanes are given preferential Christmas treatment. The Chocolate bauble was filled with an unusually pleasant apple and cinnamon mousse and rounded off with pine candy floss and apple pie popcorn.
The Bailey’s ganache came caramelized chestnuts, orange macaron and such decorative adornments, I almost couldn’t bring myself to eat it. Almost. The ganache had the smoothness and richness you would expect and a lovely boozy hint of Baileys to give it that extra special Christmas feel. It was polished rather rapidly and was most satisfying.
We were then served mince pies and coffee to round off our dining experience. Whilst this is a lovely touch I couldn’t help but feel Lanes had let themselves down again over presentation. When I am served a festive mince pie in a classy dining establishment I prefer for it to be presented with a hint of pizzazz. A sprinkling of icing sugar as a bare minimum, not like it has just been hurriedly tipped out of a Mr Kipling box. Still, the coffee was good and the mince pie was appreciated nonetheless.
Overall, it was a great value for money festive dining experience in London. The staff were friendly and attentive and the food was tasty and arrived promptly. You can also find some cracking deals at Lanes of London with Bookatable, including their Star Deals offer that includes 3 courses & a glass of bubbles for just £28.50 per person and their free champagne offer, if you fancy a glass of fizz on the house! It’s a fantastic way of experiencing some fine dining in London without breaking the bank! Where is your favourite place for festive dining? Let me know in the comments below.
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