The refurbed brasserie hits all the right notes for hotel guests and locals
It was to the lobby of the Park Lane Hilton many years ago that I was summoned to come and (literally) pick up my father who had succumbed to drink at his Xmas work event there.
He woke up when I arrived and made a break for it, so I had to chase him all over the hotel and then up Park Lane until I found him passed out on a car bonnet some distance away.
Since then I’ve been up to the top floor restaurant Galvin at Windows a few times, it must be one of London’s longest lasting fine dining establishments, and always enjoyed it immensely.
The new Park Corner Brasserie is a different kettle of poisson of course. It’s nowhere near as expensive as Windows and serves as a working restaurant for the majority of the hotel guests. Actually, it’s advertised as a new Modern-British neighbourhood restaurant, which is fair enough if your neighbourhood is Knightsbridge
The Brasserie is behind the lobby and fairly large, but by varying the levels and creating some side areas it doesn’t seem enormous. A great deal of money has apparently been spent on the refurb and it’s attractively airy and modern; the lime coloured banquettes on wood frames stand out against a chequered floor and the shelves have knicknacks to add a nice designer-home feel. Apparently there is no nasty plastic in the place at all, they reuse everything.
We grab a window seat and look at a large piece of colourful card that is, in very brasserie style, the menu.
Of course like all hotel places it has to cover bases as guests can be any age and from any part of the world. So it has to have steak and it has to have burgers, everyone loves steak and burgers. Well, except me.
Sourdough bread, with cultured and smoked garlic butter, is served very fancily along with those rather covetable wooden knives that top restaurants use. The bread is slightly too damp inside but otherwise was very decent and kept us going until starters showed up.
Cod and prawn cake with a crispy oyster, kale and mussel sauce was pretty ambitious and rather pretty, the crispy cake cooked perfectly to an even gold colour all the way around. Cod seemed to outweigh prawn in the mix, so it missed the touch of luxury that would have otherwise elevated it from fish cake status, but it was a good fishcake.
Rather heavier was J’s Slow Cooked South Downs Pork Belly, with crispy crackling, blobs of apple sauce, bbq sauce plus celeriac ‘slaw’ or, as a French diner might call it, celeriac remoulade. Gloriously sticky, with the apple and the celeriac crisply cutting through, it went down very well.
In a brasserie I want to eat food that is proper brasserie, and not Michelin-lite, so a lobster mac’n’cheese seemed like a good idea and it was. Tender pasta, a rich sauce and lashings of snappy crustacean. A hint of chilli, or hot pepper, was a nice touch making it a real plate scraper.
Good to see a slow cooked duck leg on the menu, it’s a staple in France especially at this time of year. So easy to do, take out of its deep bed of fat and basically just warm it up and serve.
This was fine, if a little underwhelming, the leek and potato mash was creamy, the broccoli al dente but the shallot sauce was missing as, at the last minute chef, had remembered we flagged up J’s allergy to red wine tannins before we ordered. This left the dish rather dry.
He contained his slight disappointment at the inability of the kitchen to rustle up any other kind of sauce at short notice, and otherwise enjoyed his duck singling out the mash for particular praise
His Sticky Toffee And Plum Pudding with clotted cream ice cream offered comfort food consolation, and I was happy with my creme brulee although there was rather too much of it for my comfort. Proper crispy glaze on it, and the shortbread was a sugary sweet welcome addition.
I don’t suppose many people will be making a special journey to the Park Corner Brasserie, but for the hotel’s gusts it offers a menu and ambience far better than one has come to expect from hotel restaurants, but then it is the Hilton after all.
And anyone out Xmas shopping could do a lot worse than to head down Park Lane for a spot of quality lunch well away from the madding crowds in Oxford Street. My father, sadly, is no longer a threat to the refined atmosphere.
22 Park Lane,
Mayfair, London W1K 1BE