Sustainability and eco-friendliness are popular buzzwords when it comes to modern dining. But many that claim to be hot on the ethical eatery scene can fall at the first hurdle when inspected more closely.
Not so with the Island Grill in Lancaster Gate though, which has been awarded the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s top Three Star rating, thanks to Head Chef Adam Woolven’s tireless efforts to create an eco-friendly yet luxurious dining experience.
The restaurant is a mere ten paces from Lancaster Gate tube station, and forms part of the iconic mid-century Lancaster London hotel. With its own private entrance opposite Hyde Park, Island Grill presents a modern European menu which changes with each season as part of its dedication to sustainability.
Decor is simple and sleek on a split-level dining room floor. The design was conceived by Stiff + Trevillion, the talent behind Wagamama and Fakhreldine. With a white limestone exterior and large glass entrance doors, Island Grill creates a striking visual impact on arrival. And the offer of a glass of champagne as we were seated seemed to good to refuse. We positioned ourselves next to one of the floor-to-ceiling windows which give the feel of being on a terrace despite hearing the rain splatter the glass just next to you. In the evenings, the back-lit ceiling panels create a warm ambiance, and the open-plan kitchen design allows diners to view the chefs at work.
The menu offers a tempting array of dishes from the traditional (think fish and chips and a variety of steaks) to more inventive creations such as pork belly with egg noodles on a bed of Asian salad, and roasted Gressingham duck on Russian kale with salsify puree. All ingredients are sourced as locally as possible.
We opted for the duck salad with pak choi, and leek, pea and broad bean risotto to start. Both of which were just the right size and presented beautifully. The risotto was topped with homemade cheese crisps and confit lemon which gave a real edge to the dish.
All mains are priced around the £15 mark and are good sized portions. We went for the vegetarian special of spinach cannelloni on a mushroom sauce, and fish and chips. Both were enjoyed, although not as mouthwateringly wowing as the starters. And all was washed down with a brilliantly fruity bottle of Tilia Malbec at a very reasonable £28.
The service at Island Grill is certainly something to be mentioned. Everyone who entered was immediately greeted by one of the waiting staff, and they were quick to be on hand when we had a question to ask about the menu. As soon as you arrive you feel relaxed and looked after – none of the stuffy hotel vibe you might expect from such a renowned hotel venue.
When it comes to desserts we really were spoilt for choice – had we not overindulged on previous courses then the forty mile cheeseboard (with all cheeses sourced within 40 miles of the hotel) or the honey panna cotta would have been top of the list (the latter being made with honey produced by the resident hive on the hotel roof!). But sharing seemed the most sensible option if we were to avoid exploding, so we plumped for the creme brulee selection to share. And what a great decision that was! Comprising Passion fruit, dark chocolate & raspberry brûlées with passion fruit, raspberry & Valrhona chocolate sorbets on top, this is a dish nobody could decline. Absolute heaven and just the right size. If you eat one dessert in London this summer I urge you to choose this!
Island Grill is a relaxed and informal destination for a tasty breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. The service is second-to-none and the atmosphere is welcoming.
- To see the full menus or book a table, visit www.islandrestaurant.co.uk