You could say dining at The Gilbert Scott is a bit of a boy/girl thing.
This may be the shiny jewel in Marcus Wareing’s dining crown, but it’s his protégé, Chantelle Nicholson, leading the way in the kitchen. And, while the name on the door is that of the architect behind the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, the gothic, masculine benemoth of a building gives way to a rather more ladylike dining room, all fresh orchids and flaxen soft furnishings.
This also seems to be just the place to take little boys and girls – we spotted several happily tucking into the less-risqué offerings on the menu: fish and chips, omelette Arnold Bennet, some refined little diners slurping down oysters.... It is a menu that has more than a whiff of mother’s home cooking about its re-jigged British revival dishes. If your mum happened to be an award-winning chef, that is.
A starter of brown and forrest smoked salmon came with a whipped cornel of cream cheese, crunchy-as-pork-crackling rye crispbreads and chubby little fingers of pickle. The salmon was served in unusually generous sheaths, the colour of a bride's blushes, evenly smoked and all the better for their unladylike girth. Smoked duck hit the spot too – oaky, carpaccio-like slivers mingled with sweet pickled beetroot and flecks of fried shallot providing the requisite crunch.
For main, one of us was went 'girl', with Cornish plaice, mussels, tomatoes and basil, and one of us 'boy' with a sirloin steak and brandy mushroom sauce. The fish came away from the bone in luscious opalescent chunks, which for a rehabilitated fusspot who didn’t know a fish knife from a fishwife one year ago, is testament to its perfect texture. Mussels sang with the flavour of the sea and a heritage tomato salad was just as it always is – sweet, sharp, perfumed, perfect. The sirloin steak was deep, smokey and blokey, and the rich sauce perfectly soppable with a rib-sticking side of browned butter mash.
After deciding we were man enough to take on dessert, a duet of sorbets and praline tart appeared. Normally a dieter’s consolation prize of a dessert, the ices were nothing of the sort – neat, sweet mouthfuls with no discernable crystals and a whisper of bitterness. The praline tart was, as all good desserts should be, made for sharing. The generous slab was a celebration of everything sugar can grow up to become, with gooey salted caramel, rich chocolate and a topping we could only describe as ‘dime bar.’
So maybe we’ve discovered the ultimate crowd pleaser? Special enough for mum and dad’s dinner, relaxed enough for children to join in the fun. They may say men are from Mars and women are from Venus, but no matter where you’re from, your likely to find something to please at The Gilbert Scott.
Have you heard about the upcoming August bank holiday event, being held at the restaurant? Don't miss, The Great Gilbert Gala