Test Driving Alex Dilling at the Hôtel Café Royal – the hotel has a real destination restaurant | Road test

Alex Dilling’s main room, overlooking Regent Street. Note the reflective (not mirrored) ceiling.

What can you tell us about Alex Dilling at the Hotel Café Royal?

Hotel Café Royal has been looking for a good destination restaurant for a while now. While they had relative success with Albert Adria’s Cakes and Bubbles, the main restaurant has always lagged a bit, with Restaurant Laurent Tourandel being the latest to fail to capture the imagination of Londoners.

However, all that has just changed. Former Greenhouse chef Alex Dilling has come to deliver exactly what the hotel needs: a fine-dining destination restaurant with a great pedigree behind it. Focusing on established London-based talent Alex Dilling is a big plus as it feels like the restaurant has truly created something bespoke for the hotel.

Where is he?

If you’ve never been to the Hotel Café Royal, you’ll find it almost next to Piccadilly Station, just at the end of Regent Street. It’s been around for 150 years and is truly one of the most prestigious hotels in London (worth a look in the lobby).

You’ll find Alex Dilling on the first floor, but here’s where things change from the previous layout. Dilling has only taken over a relatively small room which overlooks Regent Street, while the previous restaurant also ran the length of the vast space with a gallery overlooking the hotel’s main lobby.

There are two big positives here. First of all, with only 34 seats per session, they can concentrate on a real gastronomic affair. And second, this main room is flooded with light from Regent Street, so almost every table is a winner. The only thing we would like to see are mirrors on the opposite wall so that all diners can enjoy that view.

bedroomAs you enter the restaurant you will pass this wine wall. But look closer and you’ll see the kitchen right behind it.

What kind of food can we expect?

We’re firmly in fine dining territory here, but even with that in mind, there’s a welcoming and relaxed touch to the service. The food, presented as contemporary French cuisine, is quite extraordinary. Right from the canapes, it’s clear that they have something special here.

And it’s a tasting menu only?

Yes, and of these, there are three to choose from. During the day, on Thursday or Friday, there is a three-course tasting menu for £65. This is the entry-level point if you are looking to try it for lunch. Otherwise, you have a choice of two seven-course menus at £155 or £195. It’s available for lunch on Saturday or dinner from Tuesday to Saturday.

We had dishes from all three menus. And while some of them look like studio shots (the lighting was very flattering), they’re actually what was put in front of us on the day. Everything is very impressive.

bedroomSofas kick things off in style

bedroomBrown crab – Chartreuse – lemon verbena

bedroomWe love good salted butter and that’s exactly what it does. We also covet the butter dish.

bedroomCornish Sardine – Buttermilk, Cuttlefish, “Perlé” Vinaigrette – a work of art in its presentation

bedroomLine Caught Brill – Jig Squid, Coco de Paimpol, Basque Chorizo ​​- a perfectly cooked fish dish.

bedroomCountry Pasta – Black Boudin, Iberico Ham, Andignac Foie Gras – the foie gras is a parfait inside the glittery ball

bedroomHerdwick saddle of lamb with porcini mushrooms, green olive – the first time we have personally encountered this whimsical (and classic) way of presenting the lamb bone – a “Sleeve à Cotelette”

bedroomHazelnut from Jura – Vanilla, Brandy Sabayon – an absolute barnstormer of a dessert.

bedroomAnd to finish with equally stylish petit fours.

General thoughts

Alex Dilling offers exactly what Hotel Café Royal needed – a true destination restaurant with spectacular cuisine. Dilling raised his game and then some with a truly excellent dining experience. We’d say it’s literally only a matter of time before this restaurant lands its first Michelin star.

Learn more about Alex Dilling at Hotel Café Royal

Where is he? 68 Regent Street, Soho, London W1B 4DY

How to book: online booking

Learn more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @alexdillingcaferoyal

Hot dinners were eaten as guests of Alex Dilling at the Cafe Royal hotel. Prices are correct at time of writing.

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