We’ll forgive you for shuddering at the idea of grabbing dinner around London Victoria. For years, the transport hub has been devoid of a dining option much more sophisticated than Pret and any afterwork catch ups would have been limited to chain pubs with sticky carpets and dead-eyed travellers waiting for the next train….
However, the regeneration of the area is well underway with new spots opening up here, there and everywhere. Nestled next to the futuristic Nova complex is the sumptuous The Rubens at the Palace with their incredible addition to the area, the newly refurbished, The English Grill.
The Rubens, as you’d expect, is a bijou, luxurious looking hotel on Buckingham Palace Road. As all great British secrets, its flowered exterior merely hints at the luxe that lies within. Past doormen and bellhops you’re greeted in the grand red carpeted, dark wood finished reception area and ushered to the perfectly lit drinking den, the Calvary Bar, where a jazz trio are crooning sophisticated covers.
Old Fashioneds come in geometric glasses with stylist bar snacks, but, wait, are those twiglets?! We’re coming to understand The Rubens as a place where comfort and cosy familiarity meet high end finishes and we LOVE it.
As we were seated at our booth in The English Grill we could see right into a brightly lit kitchen, past an opulent display of seasonal vegetables – again reinforcing this marriage of cosiness and high end, classic and cutting edge; a still life scene meets a bustling, modern chef station.
A basket of breads, including seed crisp breads and onion buns, appears with crudités and we snuggle into our seats, excited for the warming feast ahead. We had entered a very special world, just minutes from the evening commuter chaos at London Victoria and we already knew that we were going to struggle to leave.
To interrupt what we’re hoping is a rich depiction of this wonderful place…. can we just talk about the fact that The English Grill has not only a roast but also a pie for every day of the week. Let that sink in. You could treat yourself to a warming high-end roast on a Wednesday night, dressed up with the girls or get your parents to take you for five star pie and mash on a Saturday afternoon. Okay, back to where we were….
Starters range from the most impressive Burrata and Avocado on toast we’ve ever had (yes, we did have brunch for starters!) to smoked salmon sliced at your table from a trolley from a Wes Andersen movie. Feeling very autumnal and in need of real sustenance we plumped for the steaks for mains ; one a melt-in-the mouth Kobe Beef Fillet, the other an incredibly generous and supremely tasty Tomahawk steak with triple cooked chips and market greens. Never have we tasted steaks so succulent and satisfying.
With meat proudly coming from suppliers such as Aubrey Allen, The English Grill is definitely a carnivore’s paradise but with salmon from H. Forman and a classic Grilled Dover Sole also on offer, pescaterians will dine incredibly happy as well.
Alongside our seasonal feast we were treated to a flight of wines from the Red Carnation hotels’ owners’ vineyard; Bouchard Finlayson. Whites accompanied our starters; both oaked and non oaked and with our mains, reds of course! The real treat of the selection was trying the 2015 Hannibal against the 2014 variety which was so new to the restaurant that only the hotel owner had tried the bottle before us. Now is the right time to whisper, very quietly, that this #TeamCoco writer is no wine connoisseur, but the sommelier was so incredibly engaging and friendly that I not only loved the wines we tried but also learnt a little wine intel.
We wrapped our dining experience with two retro childhood delights; an IceCream Sundae and Eton Mess. The desserts were refreshingly simple and a wholesome cap on an incredible dining experience.
Glancing at our watches we realised we’d been happily dining away and chatting with the team for almost 4 hours and it was sadly time to leave. Sweeping up our winter coats and stepping out into bustling Victoria we felt as if we had experienced the ultimate luxury; of escaping the busy world outside even if just for the night. We had an incredible evening at The English Grill at The Rubens at the Palace and can’t wait for another occasion to escape there once again!
The English Grill is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner at The Rubens at the Palace at 39 Buckingham Palace Rd, Westminster, London SW1W 0PS