The food scene in London has changed so much over the past couple of decades. We have moved away from that shocking reality of poor quality, few interesting options and culinary apathy. We have some of the world’s best restaurants, the most vibrant international dishes and a huge panorama of choices including beef rib!
A few years ago no self-respecting food-lover would ever admit to eating in a hotel – well, only if it was a smart one and then only for breakfast. We have moved on from that concept of hotels not trying with their gastronomic facilities. We all remember those lunches in dining areas that still had a whiff of a Full English about them. Gone are the days, mostly, when a dinner in one’s hotel was the last resort of the desperate.
The Rib Room is the dining room at Jumeirah Carlton Tower, not too far from Harrods. Yes, it’s on the ground floor of a newish hotel building but this is a classy and classic restaurant that shouts quality. It’s a polished and refined establishment which stops short of intimidating. The staff are friendly and helpful to a lunch crowd who are mostly Ladies Wot Lunch, with a scattering of businessmen. It’s a quiet and comfortable meeting place with the advantage of marvellous food at hand.
The dining room is bathed in dappled light from colonially-shuttered windows. There are well-spaced chairs and cosy banquettes. The tables are bedecked with crisp white linen and silverware in elegant fashion but the menu tempts with both the familiar and the unique. The Rib Room has its beefy signature dish but more.
The menu has seasonal changes which take advantage of abundant fresh produce. My visit was in August so a corn and crab broth was on the bill of fare. This was a light and creamy soup with fresh shellfish. A delightful presentation and appropriate for a day when the sun beamed through the windows looking over Cadogan Place. It’s the area which once was the haunt of the likes of Oscar Wilde (he was arrested at the Cadogan Hotel near here) and Lillie Langtry.
Summer vegetable salad, goat’s curd and summer truffle dressing was my guest’s starter. This was a sizable portion of baby vegetables at their best. There was evidence of real truffle along with tangy and fresh goat’s curd. Even non-vegetarians would be charmed by this simple and delicious plate.
The main courses offer vegetarian options that don’t seem like a chef’s afterthought. Bread-wrapped wild mushrooms, onion purée, baby carrots and garlic velouté sounded interesting and it was. The bread (or was it a pastry?) formed a crust supporting mushrooms which had the very essence of wild fungi flavour. The velouté was a delicious base, being flavourful rather than overpowering. A must-try here for anyone taking a break from meat.
But it’s roast rib of beef that gives its name to this restaurant and it’s a worthy signature dish. My guest is a son of Yorkshire and a self-proclaimed connoisseur of the eponymous pud; he considered his lunch to be ‘reet champion’ in every regard. The beef was a perfectly cooked 160g slice from a joint selected from Donald Russell, Royal warrant holder since 1984 and trusted supplier to H.M. The Queen. A very hearty eater could go for a 220g portion but I’d recommend that only for a rugby player or for dinner, when there is more time to savour. Do have the crispy and fluffy roast potatoes here as they are the traditional accompaniment to such a meal, along with the aforementioned Yorkshire Pudding.
Prices are very reasonable at The Rib Room at lunchtime. There are some wines by the glass, 2 courses for £28, 3 courses for £34, 3 courses and half a bottle of wine, water and coffee or tea for £42.00. One doesn’t have to break the bank to enjoy The Rib Room, and one feels rather pampered in this charming and timeless restaurant.
The Rib Room Bar & Restaurant
Jumeirah Carlton Tower
One Cadogan Place
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7858 7250
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018