So I’ll let you into a secret; I’m not usually the biggest fan of hotel restaurants. I’m never quite able to make the separation between somewhere you sleep and somewhere you eat.
Even with separate entrances, I can’t get over the fact that unless you have the lure of a celebrity-chef like Heston Blumental’s Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental, why would you choose a hotel-restaurant? Especially when London’s foodie scene has virtually every whim catered for?
What makes a great dining experience?
For me, the key ingredients of a great dining experience are: the location, the ambiance, the food, service and of course, the company. And in all fairness, Hunter 486 (named after the 1950s dialing code for Marylebone) delivers on all of the above.
Located at The Arch, a boutique luxury hotel near Marble Arch (famed for its 19th century London landmark designed to be the entrance to Buckingham Palace), it’s right at the heart of central London.
As for ambiance, the dining room is lovely and compact, with lots of different areas packed with design-detail. The tables are well laid out with a selection of booths to choose from – and as regular readers of our little food blog will know, the GLC loves a booth – somehow they always add a little extra to the experience.
Another focus to the room is the open kitchen with a visible fire from the stone baked pizza oven on show, that combined with a clever use of sheer curtain particians, allows you to genuinely forget the hotel-restaurant thing.
As for the food, Head Chef, Gary Durrant has created a “Best of British” inspired selection with everything from Dorset crab starters, stone baked racks of lamb mains, though to classics like beer battered haddock. It’s a concise and tasty choice – a menu I could happily revisit as the options were superb.
Googling goat’s cheese
I eventually chose the ‘quinoa, rocket, grilled vegetables Rosary goat’s cheese with basil dressing’ to start, followed by the ‘flat iron steak’ and I’m glad I did. Let’s put it this way I’ve subsequently Googled ‘Rosary goat’s cheese’ and will be buying very soon. It was unbelievably tasty! This left the bar rather high for the steak, but again the flavours were there in abundance. So much so, my only criticism is I wasn’t offered the opportunity to supersize my dishes as I would have added more goat’s cheese and another few grams to the steak.
My wife had a starter of ‘dressed dorset crab, avocado and pink grapefruit’, which went down very well with a glass of crisp ‘Tattinger Rose’. This was followed by the ‘fillet of cod, braised peas, spring onions, air dried ham and mint’ from the stone oven, which was a fantastic mix of light, yet deliciously rich and beautifully complementary tastes.
Hunter’s secret weapon
Not to be undone, the desserts were above par too, ridiculously rich chocolate and a lovely Eton mess.
All simple, classic dishes perfectly executed with one secret weapon yet to be revealed. The library. Where better to round off an evening with an expresso than in the hotel’s quiet, elegant reading room? Now there’s something a normal restaurant doesn’t have.
Hunter 486 at The Arch Hotel London
50 Great Cumberland Place
020 7724 0486
Nearest tube: Marble Arch