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JW Steakhouse, Park Lane, a souless steak

I am always a bit apprehensive about going to hotel restaurants in London. I have had some pretty iffy meals in the past and they often display an identikit corporate feel that you don't get at standalone restaurants. However with the explosion of good steakhouses in London I was keen to try the Grosvenor House's take on this type of food. We were having an off site lunch meeting and rather than go to our favourite red meat emporium "Goodman" I decided to try the "JW Steakhouse". I checked out the website before booking and it seemed to talk a good game so I booked for our Friday lunch.

We walked in the cavernous room which fronts onto Park Lane and I was disappointed to see it was pretty empty. However we were greeted nicely and shown to a spacious table. We ordered drinks which took a while to arrive and perused the menus. It wasn't the greatest of starts , big empty room, piped in cheesy rock music and an outrageously priced wine list. Matters improved when they gave us some bread which was a sort of savoury brioche freshly baked. Very nice. From my seat I could see into the kitchen which was huge, clean and organised so I was expecting a good meal. The manager came over and introduced himself prior to ordering explaining it was their first day open proper. I felt their steak selection was actually a bit limited and expensive so I went for a simple hanger steak, chips and onion rings. I was joined in this by one of my fellow diners the others had the £17 burger!!!! and the other a caeser salad. We ordered a bottle of their cheaper cab sab which for £35 wasn't great (I can get Vasse Felix for that cost in Odin's).

The food arrived pretty quickly and though my hanger steak was tasty it was not cooked medium some of it being very blue. It also wasn't piping hot suggesting it had been under the passe for a while. This is a bit of a bug bear of mine. I like my food to come from pan to plate to table rapidly. Hotel restaurants seem to get this wrong more than most. Having said that my dining companions really enjoyed their meal and cleared their plates. On a plus side my onion rings were really good some thought had gone in to making look and taste more than just a generic side.

By the time we had finished our mains the restaurant had filled up a bit more but it still felt a little souless. I did wonder how it would appeal beyond the hotel guests who made up the majority of their clientele on their first full day. We were all too full for desert so ordered some coffees, however as first day treat the manager sent us over a cheesecake to share with our coffee. Now this was freshly baked cheesecake and was delicious, sweet, firm but not too heavy. This ensured our meal ended on a high.

The service was attentive but you did feel the staff were still learning their ropes. I was a bit annoyed to see that when the bill came they tried to hit me for double service charge which is another classic hotel trick. The bill came to £154 for 4 for main and drinks which is going some. It has to be said I was dissapointed with our lunch not in that it was bad but that I was expecting better. I was hoping for a take on a US Vegas style steakhouse like Prime or Delmonico's instead I got our half baked version. "JW Steakhouse" should look, feel and taste better than it is, hopefully they can iron out their difficulties so that it becomes a destination restaurant rather than just using up empty space in the Grosvenor House. There were flashes of a good restaurant there but I feel they were hidden by the one size fits all mantra of a hotel restaurant.

Thursday, May 20, 2010
Overall rating
Food 6 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 3

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