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Restaurant Review

The Midland Grand review: The new brasserie at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel

Opulent, glamorous, atmospheric… this lavish new restaurant serves French cuisine with a side of panache

The Midland Grand Dining Room at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel has opened to a rapturous welcome. Little wonder, with its grand Art Deco aesthetic, warm service and buzzy ambience. Chef Patrick Powell’s menu is traditional-meets-contemporary Gallic, while an aperitif or digestif  in the seductive Gothic Bar is a must. Here’s why The Midland Grand Dining Room is our restaurant of the week.

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The job of selecting a venue for dinner with my most amusing and gossipy friend from college is not a responsibility I take lightly. There are criteria. We know from experience that a separate bar is essential, so we can unpack the evening’s most pressing gossip over a stiff drink first. The acoustics in the dining room must be perfection (any tea spilt is for our ears only). Finally, it must be glamorous, so we can pretend all our youthful dreams have come true. 

The Midland Grand Dining Room and Gothic Bar at the St.Pancras Renaissance Hotel offers all this, and the added bonus of the Spice Girls’ ‘Wannabe’ staircase as a backdrop for selfies to post boastfully on Facebook (our more-successful-than-us college friends having given all other social media channels a sensible swerve).

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Cocktails in the Gothic Bar start us off nicely. The bar’s a destination in itself, entirely separate from the Midland Grand Dining Room, and well worth having in mind when in need of pre- or post-Eurostar refreshment or recovery. It’s moodily lit, eccentrically furnished, and extremely atmospheric. My order is a vodka Martini with a spritz of stone fruit eau de vie. 

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Gothic Bar

The Midland Grand Dining Room takes over from the old Gilbert Scott and is plush, gilded and aesthetically overblown in the best possible way. It is always a pleasure to see Emma Underwood, the restaurant’s general manager, whose career I’ve followed from Stockport’s Where The Light Gets In, to Stem, Darby’s and The Pem. She’s one of London’s warmest hosts and, sympathetic fellow northerner that she is, she strikes a fine balance between looking after us and leaving us to it.

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Chefs Table

Chef Patrick Powell, formerly of Chiltern Firehouse, still of Allegra and Booking Office 1869, is master of the snack. His liver parfait choux at Allegra are renowned, his buttermilk fried chicken at Booking Office 1869, revered. At Midland Grand Dining Room, he starts us off with parmesan fritters, black garlic and shaved coppa, perfect mouthfuls, and a pair of gildas, grilled octopus subbing in successfully for anchovy. 

The menu has roots in classic French cuisine but feels contemporary and playful too. Vol-au-vent with veal sweetbread and wild mushroom feels fancy. The college friend’s white asparagus with seaweed beurre blanc on its scallop-edge plate no less so. Main courses are an excellent tomato tarte tatin, and hake en papillôte with salsa verde and soft polenta, both of which speak of southern French summers. 

“The menu has roots in classic French cuisine but feels contemporary and playful too. Vol-au-vent with veal sweetbread and wild mushroom feels fancy.”
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If you like your gastronomy even lighter, even simpler, you’re catered for here with salads, shellfish, and raw dishes aplenty; for big eaters, there’s a beef rib or sirloin with French fries and a roast chicken to share. Menus du jour are a bit of a theme of these pages right now. It’s undoubtedly something to do with stratospheric price rises which put even the greediest of us off going out. The Midland Grand Dining Room’s is £36 for two courses, £42 for three, and includes dishes I really want to eat, like steak tartare, green peppercorn and smoked bone marrow, and a fig leaf and blackberry Paris-Brest.

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The dish of the day is a banana soufflé which Underwood, in her infinite wisdom, steers us towards. I don’t know many people who rejoice at the prospect of banana desserts, but this pneumatic, almost sculptural creation is a thing of wonder. We leave well fed and fully gossiped out. A nightcap in the Gothic Bar will have to wait for the next instalment.

THE LOWDOWN:

Meal for two (with wine): £200

Signature Dishes: Pâté en croûte du jour; soufflé du jour

What to drink: Thirsty Gargoyles in the Gothic Bar


St.Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Road, Bloomsbury, London NW1 2AR
midlandgranddiningroom.com

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