In what has become a monthly occurrence in London, an expensively renovated grand hotel has opened, with an equally grand restaurant.
The latest, the St. Pancras Renaissance, is certainly the grandest, as is its restaurant, The Gilbert Scott, run by estimable chef Marcus Wareing.
The hotel, a 138-year-old manifestation of British empirical pomp in a style known as High Victorian Gothic, may seem familiar to film buffs—in recent years, the building had been left derelict, and was used as a location for “Harry Potter” and “Batman” movies.
After a six-year, £200-million restoration, it has emerged as a magnificent palace, gloriously over-decorated, from its colourfully tiled or carpeted floors to its soaring, arched ceilings.
The restaurant is only slightly less subdued. Named for the original architect, it’s a bright, sweeping room, with a two-storey ceiling, gilded columns, and windows along one wall.
The food is a restoration, too, based on “British heritage” recipes, many dating back several centuries, updated and streamlined. Unlike the décor, they tend to be restrained, somewhat genteel, though precisely cooked. Call it luxury comfort food.
Diners are also having to retrofit their vocabularies. Mushrooms in an intensely savoury red-wine sauce are served on “sippets” (toast), sea bass fillets come with “cullenskink” sauce (rich smoked haddock and potato), “tweed kettle” is sea trout with a crust of herbs, lemons, and nutmeg. “Pease pudding,” of nursery-rhyme fame, is served hot, and delicious.
The excellent wine list runs to about 150 mid-price, good-value selections from around the world, arranged mostly by grape variety.
The Gilbert Scott,
London NW1 2AR.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7278 3888
Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Written by Brian St. Pierre