Hotel restaurants often fall into one of two categories: break-the-bank celebrity chef affairs, reserved for expense account dinners and special occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, celebrating your new multi-million-pound winning lottery ticket), or dreary courts-of-last-resort, when the thought of wading out into the rain after a transatlantic flight is only slightly less appealing than facing whatever warmed-over goulash is on the (sticky, plasticized) menu.
The new Lanes of London, which opened last month in the 5-star London Marriott Hotel Park Lane, is neither of the above–and thank heavens for that. Not only are the prices reasonable, but the atmosphere of low-key sophistication is inviting enough to tempt clientele beyond the captive audience of the hotel, especially given its location across from Hyde Park, around the corner from Oxford Circus Tube station.
Intimate lighting, just a flicker brighter than the romance of candlelight, creates a cocoon of warmth in the L-shaped bar, which flows seamlessly into the restaurant itself. A mirrored wall provides a backdrop for a fireplace at one end of the bar, while a few niches, sequestered by half-wall dividers, proffer the privacy required for a cosy tete-a-tete.
The most unique aspect of Lanes of London, however, is the menu. Executive chef Anshu Anghotra strives to create a sense of London’s gastronomic diversity with tapas portions inspired by some of the city’s most famous ethnic neighbourhoods.
You’ll find butter chicken, samosa chat, and paneer pakoras from Brick Lane’s “curry mile”; Middle Eastern minced lamb skewers, fattoush salad, and falafel from Edgeware Road; Vietnamese beef noodle soup, barbecued pork skewers and green papaya salad from Kingsland Road; and beef brisket sliders, fried chicken, beff burgers, hot dogs and scotch eggs from the culinary catch-all of Portobello Road.
But if you’re after “traditional” British fare, Lanes of London has that, too. Offerings include afternoon tea, Sunday roasts (think roast beef and shoulder of lamb), and fish and chips and Foreman’s smoked salmon.
Tapas portions cost from £4.90 to £13.90. Sunday roasts run £14.50 to £18.50. The most expensive dish on the menu is a 12-ounce rump steak served with walnut and chili pesto and hand-cut chips for £23.50.
Wash it all down with a signature Lanes cocktail (£12), such as the cheekily named Pi-Nam Colada (Bacardi Superior rum, peanut and tamarind ice cream, pineapple juice, yellow Chartreause, absinthe, kaffir and lemongrass syrup).
For an after dinner drink, try the Ka’Hawa Reviver–the Lebanese version of an “Irish coffee” (Bacardi 8 YO, espresso, and Lebanese seven spice syrup).
There’s also a wide variety of wine and champagne (including Moet & Chandon and Dom Perignon) and a small but carefully curated selection of local and international brews (£5).
I choose the best of all possible worlds–a Brick Lane Bruv, which combines John Paul Brilliance single malt whiskey from Goa, pineapple, lime juice, house made chai syrup, and Meantime pale ale. Forget your dainty little long-stemmed martini glass; this bad boy comes in a pint-sized mug. Yep, you read that right. It’s a cocktail pint.
It’s a killer combination that will lure locals and tourists alike. Personally, I’m looking forward to wandering (and perhaps wobbling) along these lanes again soon.
More info: Lanes of London, http://lanesoflondon.co.uk,140 Park Lane, London W1K 7AA, tel: +44 (0)20 7647 5664. Located at the London Marriott Hotel Park Lane, http://www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/travel/lonpl-london-marriott-hotel-park-lane/.
Photos courtesy Lanes of London.