COMO Metropolitan London, 19 Old Park Lane, Mayfair, London, W1K 1LB
• Style of food: open-flame grill
• Wine to try: Château de Cesseras, La Liviniere, Minervois, France 2013, £43
• Price: £150-£200 for a meal for two with wine; set menu £30/three courses
• Kitchen open: 12pm-3pm; 5.30pm-10.30pm Monday to Saturday
Back in the late 1990s the Met Bar was the place to see and be seen. The exclusive members’ bar had one of the capital’s toughest door policies, with rows of paparazzi parked on the pavement outside as Cool Britannia stars from Liam Gallagher to Kate Moss partied inside. How times change…
Today the space is an altogether more subtle affair, dimly lit with slate grey banquettes, burnished red leather seats and an enticing wine wall. But the heart of the action is an open kitchen, where flames leap from the grill as diners take in the pyrotechnics across a marble-topped counter.
The foodie credentials are high – thanks to executive chef Richard Turner of Hawksmoor fame – and the menu doesn’t disappoint. A roster of meaty cuts and steaks sit alongside grilled seafood and hearty wood-roasted veg, with drool-inducing sides such as Tunworth mashed potato with braised trotter and crackling or beef dripping gallette potatoes.
The characterful wine list, curated by Decanter contributing editor Fiona Beckett, is perfectly pitched to complement the flame-licked food. Arranged by style – ‘racy whites’, ‘big gorgeous reds’ – it also features informative focus sections on particular grapes such as Grenache. Wine lovers should also ask for the secret ‘Under the Counter’ list, a short selection from big names, including Ridge Geyserville Vineyard 2010 from California (£150), Domaine Comte Lafon Mersault 2015 (£240) and Château Palmer Margaux 1988 (£450).
We kicked off with Marchesi Migliorati Pecorino 2017 (£35) paired with juicy wood-roasted scallops and a surprisingly glorious dish of ash-burnt leek, the blackened outer leaves giving way to sweet, soft slivers dripping in brown butter and dotted with crunchy caramelised hazelnuts. The best veggie dish we’ve tasted all year.
Meaty mains of venison steak and Hereford beef rump were well sourced and cooked beautifully to order, accompanied by bone marrow sauce, glazed heritage carrots and that decadent crackling mash; every bit as dreamy as it sounded on paper. A bottle of Château de Cesseras, La Liviniere, Minervois 2013, full of velvety black fruit and spice, its long savoury finish marked with notes of bonfire smoke, complemented the rich, powerful flavours of the food.
Classic cocktails, comfort puds (think sticky toffee pudding with Armagnac) and an interesting line-up of sweet and fortified wines add further appeal to the offer here, along with the informed and welcoming service.
The days of Cool Britannia may be long gone, but Gridiron is a hot ticket.