RESTAURANT REVIEW: Venetia van Kuffeler lunches at Gridiron by COMO, a modern live-fire grill in the heart of Mayfair
20 YEARS AGO, London was a rather different place from what it is today. ‘Cool Britannia’ provided a wave of British optimism that circled the globe. Nowhere embodied this time better than the celebrity hangout The Met Bar, found in the Metropolitan hotel. Opening on Park Lane in 1997 as Tony Blair entered Downing Street, the Met Bar attracted stars such as the Gallagher brothers (Oasis), Kate Moss and The Spice Girls, and was regularly splashed across the newspapers.
Today, COMO Metropolitan London is firmly established on the Old Park Lane landscape, as well as being home to London’s first Nobu restaurant. In the former space of the Met Bar they recently opened an exciting new modern ‘live-fire grill’ dining concept at Gridiron by COMO. In a unique collaboration with leading British chef Richard H. Turner, the restaurant combines Turner’s expertise in open flame cooking and ethical sourcing with COMO’s history in destination-defining restaurants. The space’s open kitchen format allows the art of grilling to take centre stage and, if they choose, guests can observe their dishes coming together while enjoying a cocktail at the bar.
The hearty menu celebrates in-season, ethically-sourced ingredients with meat, native fish and vegetables all given equal attention. We began with a few treats from the ‘snacks menu:’ crunchy buttermilk chicken, Tamworth pork rillons with apple ketchup, plus a crispy scampi with a jalapeño tartare that I’m still dreaming about. Delicious. These worked perfectly as a starter, so we skipped further tempting options of ash burnt leek with a hazelnut aillade, or Devon crab with angel hair pasta and shellfish butter sauce.
Moving on to the next fire-cooked speciality, I opted for the plump Scottish cod served with Jerusalem artichoke and a salty shrimp bisque, and my companion the Brixham turbot on the bone with chicken butter sauce and chicken salt. Just as we’d been promised, our sides of pointed cabbage and roast heritage carrots with a carrot top pesto were a tasty match for the main dishes. Another time, I’d be tempted by their cuts of Mangalitza pork chop with trotter gravy or a Hereford rib eye steak served with a selection of sauces that had me drooling: bone marrow, brown butter and anchovy or Béarnaise. The excellent sommelier paired our dishes with a couple of glasses of wine.
It was an ideal lunch, and a good reminder of this simple yet flavourful way of cooking. Admittedly, had I been there for dinner we may have chosen rather differently, and perhaps indulged in a peach pavlova or sticky toffee pudding with Armagnac and clotted cream. Time to plan a return…
GRIDIRON BY COMO, OLD PARK LANE, MAYFAIR, LONDON W1K 1LB
T: +44 207 447 1080 WWW.GRIDIRONLONDON.COM