Jason Atherton’s return to Grosvenor Square is not without drama. The chef made his name at Maze, the restaurant he launched with Gordon Ramsay at the Marriott in 2005 and left five years later to go solo. He and Ramsay haven’t spoken since and now the two chefs are facing off against each other on opposite sides of the square: Ramsay with Maze’s reincarnation as Lucky Cat, and Atherton with this approachable (if not approachably priced) dining room within the new Biltmore hotel.
Starters focus on raw fish and meat in the likes of king crab with zingy yuzu and lime or a more subtle Orkney scallop with pear and sorrel, though the best thing we began the meal with were the gorgeous beef dripping croutons – like squishy chips made from fried bread – that accompanied a loose-textured, ruby-red steak tartare.
To follow, native lobster with white port bisque and rib-eye steak with bone-marrow both showcased well-sourced – and lusciously sauced – ingredients, though a side order of New Forest wild mushrooms with smoked egg yolk was so rich it would have been better served on toast as a starter.
In fact, so much of what we ate produced a sort of mouth-coating richness that we were grateful for our ultra fresh-tasting vegetable dishes of iceberg lettuce and snow peas with blue cheese, and a Caesar salad of cos lettuce and nori. A deconstructed Victoria sponge, meanwhile, made us think that afternoon tea here would be a good punt.
The Biltmore is part of LXR, whose properties are billed as the ‘one-of-a-kind’ wing of the Hilton empire. In truth, though, there’s no escaping you’re in a multinational hotel chain; the Betterment may have its own entrance, but the creamy, grey-ish decor feels very corporate, and efficient staff don’t do much to inject personality to proceedings.
The restaurant does, however, have a trump card in a heated terrace which allows year-round alfresco and would be an especially welcome sight in the morning over something bracing from the Wellness section of the breakfast menu (there’s lobster scrambled eggs and a full English, too).
Speaking of Trump: POTUS makes an appearance in what is destined to be this year’s most-Instagrammed cocktail, The Orange American, served in a Toby jug modelled on the President and topped with a comb-over of candy floss – presumably not on the menu when Atherton cooked for Trump on his recent State Visit.
Trump was right: the American Embassy should never have moved out of Grosvenor Square. Jason Atherton, at least, is a welcome return.