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|Address:||London Hilton, 22 Park Lane, London W1K 1BE|
|Tel:||020 3463 0299|
|Price: £78.00||Wine: £20.00||Champagne: £63.50|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Fri 12N-2.30pm Sun 11.45am-3.30pm Mon-Sat 6-10pm (Thurs-Sat -10.30pm )|
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Entering the restaurant late on a Friday night, tables were full to the brim with couples, friends and acquaintances all busily chatting away and it can get pretty noisy at its peak. No matter, as your attention is immediately turned to the view from all windows – no matter where you sit, you can catch a glimpse of London from all angles here (even on a cold damp and dark night). Service is an impeccable combination of hospitable concern without overly fussing – a balance that's often hard to pull off, so hats off. The Maitre D is also very good at pushing the aperitifs, which must add some great revenue to the restaurant and I can imagine he'd have no problem selling ice to eskimo's with that sort of charm.
Food however is an entirely different story and like any good show with a poor second half that really disappoints, so too does it here. I'm genuinely conflicted because I want to like it and feel I should for all the digits on the bill but it just didn't quite hit the spot. The menu seemed to be pulled out of a ready steady cook bag, where the same ingredients featured throughout dishes from starters to main, without any real invention. An amuse bouche of tuna with a special kick started the course off well but I was instantly let down by a starter of pea veloute with alsace bacon and creme fraiche, which was well made, but lacked any real flavour and seasoning.
After this, I was looking forward to the mains in order to lift the experience and a dish of white asparagus and fillet of halibut with grapefruit vinegarette arrived at the table with a look of real promise. However upon tasting, although the fish was cooked to perfection, the grapefruit did not compliment it at all and made it somewhat inedible. As I turned my attention to the asparagus for some welcome relief I was further disappointed. the asparagus was tough and stringy and was impossible to cut through. Now I'm not one for nuking my vegetables till they are nothing but mush but on the other extreme, raw vegetables which are inedible aren't exactly great either. It was a shame as what I could manage to carve up was rather tasty. Upon mentioning this to the waiter, he did admit that he had felt that the dish required a chopping knife and that he had mentioned this to the Maitre D but this was vetoed – perhaps Maitre D has gnashers similar to Bond's arch nemesis Jaws and therefore felt it unecessary.
Though the potential is there, both the execution and the delivery left the meal and me with nothing but regret. It seems like a familiar case of style over substance, and I find it very surprising that it won best french eaterie over the likes of Hibiscus, as having just recently dined there and having been wowed by every element, I would say it could learn a few lessons from it.