Island Grill, Lancaster Terrace, London W2 2TY
Reservations on 020 7551 6070 or visit www.islandrestaurant.co.uk
Named after the fact that the Lancaster sits on an island site directly facing Hyde Park, the Grill can be accessed direct from street level just a few metres to the right of the exit from Lancaster Gate central Line or through the first floor of the main hotel. It's a popular venue for locals and 90 per cent of diners are just that or indeed regulars, possibly because they are aware that it's gained two AA Rosettes and three stars from the Sustainable Restaurants Association. That's due to Head Chef Adam Woolven’s tireless efforts to create an eco-friendly yet luxurious dining experience.
All their produce is sourced as locally as possible.
The bulk of the 90 covers are on the higher level which also accomodates a well stocked bar and the open view kitchen, but there are several tables at a lower level too. Island Grill’s sleek 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. The 90 cover restaurant has vast floor-to-ceiling windows running along the two outside walls, allowing light to flood into the restaurant space. In the evenings, the back-lit ceiling panels create a warm ambiance. The open-plan kitchen design allows diners to view the chefs at work, adding another dimension to their gastronomic experience. We visited during the evening and enjoyed the long crisp lines and the muted colours such as muted browns and lighting comes mainly from recessed lights but there are a few stainless steel globes.
The wine list is varied and reasonable, and the house choices are particularly good. You can't go wrong with the Rose (Pinot Grigio Villa Garducci). There are Redswhich include Merlot, Shiraz, Beaujolais and Bordeaux with the Whites represented by Chablis, Riesling, Sancerre, Chardonnay and Sauvignon BlancFor international travelers there are plenty of Bourbons as well as single malts and blends such as Chivas or Johnny Walker, and there are at least 6 different vodkas and a similar number of Cognacs and gin choices.
Island Grill is open from 7.00am–10.30pm. From Noon until 7.00pm, the restaurant offers a Prix Fixed lunch and early evening menu, priced at £9.50 for two courses and £12.50 for three courses.
From the A la Carte menu you must choose the Green Olive Ciabatta which is an elongated and chunky breadstick with an olive embedded within it. For dipping there is an extra virgin olive oil.
There are traditional starters such as Calamari (£7.95), Vegetarian Cannelloni (£6.95) with wild mushrooms and ricotta, a vegetarian butternut squash Risotto as well as Scallops, Pork Belly and several Salads. There’s also a Savoury black truffle éclair. Most can be ordered as a main course as well.
With a clue in the title it’s clear that the grill element has to be pretty strong and they have a range of steaks which include an 8oz Fillet of Beef £29.50, a 10oz Sirloin £21.50 and a 10oz Rib-Eye £21.50 which are all 21 days dry aged and sourced from Britain
There is also a Pork Cutlet £13.50 and for Chicken fans a whole baby Chicken for £13.50 which is served in a crispy skin. Fish fans can choose today’s catch or a Tuna Steak (£15.95). The kitchen is open plan and diners can see their choice being prepared.
There is also a good range of alternatives and there are four fish alternatives (fish and chips which is plaice, Sea Bass, and Roast Salmon and a seafood Linguine). We opted for the Linguine (£14.50) which has Tiger prawns, clams, mussels & braised squid in rich tomato sauce. This is surprisingly filling and the sauce is delightfully delicate and a far cry from some which can be overpowering. There is no skimping on the fish and it is the best that we have had for some considerable time.
Meat is in the form of Lamb, Duck, Chicken or a signature burger. Starters as mentioned above can also be turned into a main course and we opted for a Prawn Caesar salad (starter £6.50, main £11.95) which had the large Tiger prawns at the compass points and baby gem leaves, ciabatta, croutons, anchovies, with a Caesar dressing.
When it comes to dessert you may wish to sample something with honey in it, such as the Honey Panna Cotta (£5). This is because of the hives kept on the roof of the restaurant. The bees make use of the plentiful supply of pollen to be found in the neighbouring Hyde Park. At present there are 3 hives and plans to extend these and surpluses will be available for sale.
Look out for the Creme Brulee selection to share £7.50. With three different flavours (Passion fruit, dark chocolate & raspberry Brûlées with refreshing sorbets these proved to be a great treat and we enjoyed sharing these.
There are a range of desserts including a Baked Sultana Cheesecake (£4.50), a chocolate Trio (£5.50) which is a dark chocolate fondant, Valrhona chocolate sorbet, white chocolate & coffee foam. Then there is a Treacle Sponge, abd of course a selection of ice creams and sorbets.
Finally there is the Forty Miles Cheese Plate which has cheeses all sourced within that radius which is served with biscuits, grapes and chutney.
Photo courtesy of Richard Twilton
The childrens menu - yes we did order from it is varied enough even for the most picky. Children also have a small pack with a maze, crayons and pencils and quizzes to keep them busy during the relatively short wait. Our little angel did full justice to the Burger but there is also chicken, pasta and fish and chips to choose from and the portions are far from tiny.
There is a breakfast menu too. Apart from traditional staples are you up for a Bloody Mary or even a Champagne breakfast. These feature a full english along with the featured drink (tea and coffee are also included).
So the acid test. Would we return. Yes, there are several more items on this menu we would like to try out and with good service, good prices and a relaxed and ambient atmosphere that does more than just tolerate children, we will be returning soon.