The Great Taste Menu at The Cadogan – restaurant review

[This venue is now closed]

The Cadogan Hotel in Sloane Street, Knightsbridge, was built in 1887. The name commemorates the Earls Cadogan, who, through their company Cadogan Estates have owned Sloane Street and the surrounding area for generations.This marvellously appointed Victorian luxury hotel was, soon after its opening, to play host to the arrest of playwright Oscar Wilde. On 6 April 1895, genteel Victorian society was rocked by the ‘incident’, in room 118, which was immortalised by John Betjeman’s poem, The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel:

Cadogan restaurant review “Mr. Woilde, we ‘ave come for tew take yew
Where felons and criminals dwell:
We must ask yew tew leave with us quoietly
For this is the Cadogan Hotel.”

The poem recounts the arrest of the Irish writer on various charges of indecency. Wilde was convicted and jailed for two years.

Actress Lillie Langtry was a friend of Oscar’s. She was a celebrated beauty and was nicknamed the ‘Jersey Lily’. She had a number of prominent lovers, including the future king of England, Edward VII. She lived at 21 Pont Street from 1892 to 1897. That’s a red-brick building conveniently connected to the Cadogan. Even after she had sold the house and it had been incorporated into the hotel, Lillie would stay in her old bedroom, which was where she entertained her royal admirer.

The décor of the dining room is in taupe tones. The walls are resplendent with plaster mouldings, and that artistry continues onto the ceiling where hangs a crystal chandelier, said to have been there when this room was part of Lillie’s home. It’s a small and sophisticated dining room which has a magnificent Carrera marble Louis XIV fireplace as a focal point. This is bijou elegance seldom found these days. It is unique in that it not only seems Victorian but indeed is Victorian, and very much reminds one of those days of opulence and scandal, of boastful architecture and proud tradition.

Cadogan Great Taste logo The Cadogan now hosts the ‘Great Taste at the Cadogan’ menu, which allows diners to try the best food we in Britain have to offer. There are several food-award schemes in the UK but it’s generally acknowledged that the Great Taste Awards is the most respected of that bunch. It has a battery of more than 350 food experts from every field including buyers and sellers, chefs and writers who might have their own speciality but have the chance to taste and evaluate foods from across the grocery spectrum. Those judges have no idea whose products they are being offered: all packaging is removed to eliminate any possible bias. Last year more than 7400 products were judged and each year the number of foods submitted grows, as does the prestige of these awards.

Not every product can achieve a coveted star but even those who fall a little short of that accolade are offered constructive feedback. The judges have considerable knowledge of quality foods and they give suggestions on how a submitted item could be improved. Each product is judged independently and stands on its own merits, and it is not compared to others in the same category. A table of judges will have an array of goods to taste, from chocolate to cheese, from dandelion and burdock to damson jam.

Cadogan salad Before any food product is deemed to have fallen short of the gold star, nine experts must agree that it doesn’t have the characteristics considered important in a first-class example of its genre. This eliminates the influence that any personal preference may have, and results in a genuine consensus being reached. A writer sits at each tasting table and uploads the judge’s comments onto the central Awards database. These can later be accessed by participating producers.

The Cadogan’s ‘Great Taste’ showcase restaurant is a unique dining concept, offering those Great Taste award-winning ingredients and foods from around the country. The bread you will enjoy is made with award-winning flour. The oil into which you will dip that bread will have that distinctive black and gold logo which designates this as an outstanding product.

New menus devised by Head Chef Oliver Lesnik along with guest chefs add their own culinary magic to the ingredients offered by passionate suppliers, and all laced with fresh fruit and vegetables that are at their seasonal best.

Cadogan pasta These menus feature the choicest of a very fine selection of gold star winners. There are foods that are recognisable as traditional, and others that are inspired departures but having their origin in that arena of ‘British made’ or ‘British refined’. Home-reared Wagu beef has been dried and shaved and used as a condiment. Kentish cobnuts have been pressed into thoroughly English oil. Cured fish from around our shores garnishes fresh radish and pea shoot salad. Rabbit, a long-loved meat in these Isles, is encased in delicate pasta by chef Oliver Lesnik and served as a ravioli.  There are pies from master butchers and bakers, and puddings that are of restaurant quality. All of the pre-prepared goods are available in shops and delis. Thomasina Miers, our own home-grown Mexican chef, has developed a chocolate and chilli cake with award-winning pedigree especially for the ‘Great Taste’ menu at The Cadogan. Laverstoke Park has a selection buffalo-milk ice cream that’s rich and delicious, and flavoured with coconut or chocolate or fruit.

Celebrated chefs will participate in this project throughout the year and they bring their personalities to your table at The Cadogan, allowing you to witness the marriage between culinary skill and gastronomic excellence.

The three-course menu is priced at only £28.00 per person, and two courses at £25.00 per person.

Open for lunch:
Tuesday to Sunday Noon – 2.30pm

Open for dinner:
Tuesday to Saturday 6pm – 10pm.

Visit The Great Taste Awards here

The Cadogan Restaurant
21 Pont Street, London, SW1X 9SG


Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018