Richard Turner pulls together an A-Team for Gridiron

4 December 2018

Nick Savage, Innerplace Concierge

Talk about an A-Team. When Richard Turner, resident meat maven at Hawksmoor, decided to open his own restaurant Gridiron at the COMO Hotel on Park Lane in the former digs of the fabled Met Bar, he put together a veteran squad the likes of which this city has never seen. Colin McSherry of Clove Club is heading up the kitchens as exec chef; Max and Noel Venning of Three Sheets in Dalston will be in charge of cocktails; and wine writer Fiona Beckett and sommelier Lucy Ward in charge of wine. Taken together it‘s a veritable supergroup of foodie finesse. It adds up on the page. But does the "open-flame restaurant" add up in the flesh?

The dining room is mid-century modern with an emphasis on the modern. It‘s a classy space with light wooden floors, slick natural wood tables, an eclectic collection of paintings along the walls, and bar seating that overlooks the open-flame kitchen. You‘d be 100 per cent remiss not to order a cocktail or two. The Bloody Mary ranked with London‘s best, a tour-de-force of umami brilliance. Similarly, a Pickled Martini made with Plymouth Gin was supercharged with balanced vermouth and pickled onion. Wines held punches with top restaurants and weren‘t obscenely expensive. Beckett has a flair for pairing and Ward evinces true talent tableside.

We ordered a couple of toothsome deep-fried snacks: a plate of crispy fried scampi paired the battered langoustine tails with a jalapeno tartare, while a shortrib kiev played well with a pickled carrot salad. Braised beef shin arrived in a cuboid carapace with a rectangle of smoked eel perched on top and a creamy watercress aioli. For mains, a tranche of turbot was fired over the grill then immersed in an intoxicatingly rich chicken butter sauce then sprinkled with chicken scratching crumbs. Sirloin on the bone was unmissable, offering a bovine depth that flirts with the subterranean. A side of creamed spinach was spiked with nutmeg and beef dripping gallette potatoes were skilfully executed. We could barely find room to split a small slice of English honey tart to wrap it up but were glad we did.

Gridiron has all the hallmarks of a classic. 

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