Yes, Park Lane is swanky and fringed with outstanding hotels, and all of them are celebrated and worthy. One of the most popular is Grosvenor House with its impressive function rooms and public spaces that are worth another look after a recent refurbishment. But it also has a host of dining options, including JW Steakhouse of which I have long been fond.
It’s difficult to make a vast space seem intimate for meals but the designers of JW Steakhouse have achieved this by artful use of dark wood, tiled floors and blackboards that serve both to decorate and edify. The high ceiling, which could have given the space all the charm of an aircraft hangar, has been used to advantage, with impressive shaded lights making quite a decor statement.
JW Steakhouse has the air of an authentic US steakhouse with well-spaced tables and an imposing Bourbon Bar that would not be out of place in Manhattan. The menu at JW would be appreciated both sides of the Atlantic and beyond: steak as the main feature but lots of classic American items as supporting cast.
An iron skillet of bread arrived. We nibbled on this while we perused the menu. In most restaurants the bread would be an ‘also ran’ but here it truly is a great addition and a perfect partner to almost every dish.
These cakes are remarkable for their texture
Seafood is prized in the US, and their Atlantic and Pacific coasts provide the best of both fish and shellfish. Maryland Style Lump Crab Cake was my choice of starter. This is a traditional dish from a region famed for its crabs. These cakes are remarkable for their texture – light and flaky – and that is due to the amount of pure crab and merciful lack of the bready filler that would present a much more dense and heavy seafood hockey-puck. The chunks of crab are evident, making this one of the most deliciously decadent starters one could find.
One of my favourite starters is prawn cocktail. It’s retro, beautiful and addictive. It was so popular in the 70s that restaurants took it off the menu! There is a logic to that …I suppose: chefs wanted to replace it with their new dishes. But it’s ironic that this much-loved starter is, these days, so hard to find. So pleased to see it at JW.
Another must-try starter is those Fried Calamari with Old Bay Tartar Sauce. This was a substantial helping of the most flavourful and the least greasy calamari one might find. The batter was not too thick and was deliciously seasoned. If I was here for just a quick bite and a glass of crisp white, then this would be my dish of choice, along with a small steak. They actually have a great wine selection at JW Steakhouse, and staff who will assist with recommendations.
But vegetarians are not forgotten. I can recommend the JW Chopped Salad which is a classic preparation of vegetables (in this case a healthy nine of them), feta cheese for tang, avocado for richness and then a topping of crispy fried onions, all dressed with a citrus vinaigrette – and memorable when one includes a few grilled king prawns.
JW Steakhouse takes care with the choice of meat and its preparation
My guest ordered a USDA New York Strip Steak and that proved to be an excellent choice for a hungry chap who appreciates a good cut of meat properly cooked. It sounds so simple, but we have all had disappointing steaks; these days this reviewer only orders steak from a bespoke steak restaurant. JW Steakhouse takes care with the choice of meat and its preparation. Please don’t ask for your steak to be ‘well-done’. It would be a shame to over-cook such high-quality meat.
My Filet was cooked to medium rare and was a cliché. You would doubtless have heard the phrases ‘you could cut it with a spoon’ and ‘as soft as butter’. Those gastronomic accolades are translated into succulent reality here. This meat needed only a little sauce or some spicy Horseradish and a bowl of sweet potato fries, plus a little of that classic and fluffy bread with which one might wipe the plate. OK, so that isn’t a good look, but those juices are too tempting to waste.
So, it’s dessert time. There is the ubiquitous Warm Apple Pie, but there are some other more adventurous yet truly American pie options such as Mississippi Mud Pie, or Pecan Pie with Bourbon Ice Cream. But a hotel staff member had mentioned, with a glint in his eye, that we should try the Cheesecake.
It’s proclaimed on one of those aforementioned blackboards as ‘The best Cheesecake this side of the Pond’. If you investigate still further, then you will have the sense that this might be on the large side: ‘You may not want to share but you should’ gives you the lie of the culinary land – or just consider it as a warning.
A whole biscuit-crumb-based cheesecake that was too big for any individual of my acquaintance
We ordered just one portion of cheesecake, which at JW Steakhouse is in fact one cheesecake. Yes, a whole biscuit-crumb-based cheesecake that was too big for any individual of my acquaintance. This could serve 4 and those diners wouldn’t feel short-changed. You’ll be grateful when your waiter asks, ‘Want a box for that?’
At the end of lunch, you will realise that those well-spaced tables are not just a design feature but a consideration for diners’ comfort. Those folks will want to push chairs back and bless elastic waistbands. You will likely consider that booking a room for a doze at Grosvenor House Hotel might have been a good idea. But there will be a return visit.
JW Steakhouse London
Grosvenor House Hotel
86 Park Lane
London W1K 7TL
Phone: 020 7399 8460