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A fiery encounter on Old Park Lane

Once home to 1990s celebrity hangout the Met Bar, the 'modern live-fire grill' is the star at Gridiron

28 February, 2019 — By Tom Moggach

Rib on the bone at Gridiron – steak as it should be

IT’S fascinating to walk through the back streets to Park Lane – a glimpse into another side of London.

Behind the five-star hotels, staff on a break puff their fags and gossip. This area is stuffed with members’ clubs, casinos and swish places to eat out.

I was meeting a friend visiting the city for work, so booked us a spot at Gridiron, a new restaurant connected to the Metropolitan Hotel.

This venue was once home to the Met Bar, an iconic celeb hangout in the 1990s.

This new incarnation is led by an all-star team including the chef in charge at Hawksmoor, a chain of glitzy steakhouses.

The focus now is on the “modern live-fire grill”, where vegetables, fish and meat are expertly cooked over smoke and wood.

We took two stools at the marble bar, swivelling to soak up the atmosphere of the open-plan kitchen and dining room.

Lights are set low, the décor minimal – with darks woods, designer chairs, green and red leather and walls dotted with framed etchings of vintage kitchenware.

In restaurants like this, it’s always smart to try the bar snacks.

These finer details are essential when you’re symbiotic with a fancy hotel.

Crispy fried scampi were outrageously addictive: light fishy puffs you dip into a tartare sauce laced with jalapeno chilli.

The chefs make their own duck sausage, served in thick slices with a jumble of diced plum and black olive tapenade.

From the starters, best by far was a humble leek, charred black on the grill then sliced open to reveal its soft, squishy innards topped with a crumble of pounded hazelnuts and garlic.

Visual fireworks came with slices of scallop served in the shell and nestled on a bed of seaweed. The molluscs swam in scarlet butter laced with smoked paprika.

A duff note was the seabass ceviche: sparkling fresh fish but feeble on the citrus, with scant sign of the zingy “leche de tigre” which is intrinsic to the dish.

Before the main courses, let’s drill down on the prices. These snacks and starters, priced around £7-12, were almost a meal in themselves and high quality.

If you’re on a budget, stick with these and a cocktail. The bill starts to soar with the prime cuts.

The best ethically sourced meat is expensive and this is as it should be.

We shared a sirloin, priced £36, served with two sauces: bone marrow and a béarnaise.

Infused by the wood smoke and rested to perfection, this was a sensational hunk of flesh, paired with a side dish of buttery mash and wafer of crisp crackling.

This is how meat should be eaten – with reverence, as a treat – not as an everyday staple.

Restaurants like this, attached to a hotel, are not familiar territory for most of us.

The atmosphere can also be unpredictable, due to the blend of overnight guests and walk-ins.

But we got a buzz from this Park Lane jaunt – a reminder of the rich tapestry that is London.

Gridiron by Como
Old Park Lane, W1
www.gridironlondon.com
0207 447 1080
Instagram: @gridironlondon

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