British cuisine has never had the best reputation amongst food connoisseurs so it was pleasing to visit GBR (Great British Restaurant) recently at Dukes Hotel located in the heart of Mayfair and St James and see them championing the best of British. The location on Little St James’s Street is as discreet and non-showy as you would expect, a reflection on the stiff upper lip culture of the British.
The dining room has a bright airy feel, not just due to the use of natural light but an abundance of mirrors on the walls and ceilings. The colour scheme is equally light and welcoming with easy-on-the-eye parquet flooring, art deco lamp shades and panelling with moody black and white photos of celebrities.
Norfolk-born executive head chef Nigel Mendham is the mastermind behind operations at GBR featuring classic British dishes with a modern twist. The menu is groundbreaking in that every single dish can be chosen as a starter or a main course (apart from the daily special); so you never have to worry about not getting a large enough portion for your starter or your main course being overly filling. The menu isn’t just about embracing classic British dishes like fish and chips and Haggis Scotch egg but also celebrating the best of British ingredients so quinoa is from Essex for their Heritage beetroot salad and hake fished off the coast of Cornwall.
Interestingly, the starter/main conundrum was very much in evidence during our visit as my guest preferred to try Charlestown mussels for his starter whilst I had the dish for my main course. Charlestown might be a quaint harbour in Cornwall, but the mussels they produce in the region are some of the finest in the world with the mussel meat having delicately soft skin and a light salinity which adds to the flavours of the dish. It was cooked with Hallets cider and served with fries seasoned with celery salts and apple vinegar.
For his main course, my guest savoured beef cheeks which came with an appetising red wine sauce, onions cooked in beer and parsnip puree. Although, I did wonder if anyone would order this dish as a starter? I think the key success of GBR is that they only use the finest of ingredients, as shown by the Loch Duart salmon I tried. The omega-richness of the fish is unrivalled and plaudits must also go to the fishery for their efforts in the field of sustainability. Their fish is gently pan-fried and served with healthy amounts of peas, beans, braised gem hearts, and tarragon.
They also offer a chef’s bar experience where you can enjoy an exclusive five-course tasting menu curated by Mendham. Each dish is paired with an English sparkling wine that has been meticulously chosen to bring out the best flavours from those dishes. It is for up to seven people with vegetarian options available and at £110 per person (all-inclusive).
Their delightful weekend brunches are always popular with free-flowing bubbles to guarantee a joyous atmosphere.
They also have a private dining space that caters for up to 12 people for those looking for a venue for a birthday party or a team-bonding meal. It is an elegant yet relaxed room which makes great use of natural daylight.
It is open for breakfast seven days a week from 7am to 11am and all-day dining from 12pm to 10.30pm Monday to Saturday and Sunday brunch from 12pm to 4pm. If you have guests visiting Great Britain soon and they question the culinary excellence of our local cuisine, make sure you bring them to GBR.
Address: 36 Little St James Street, London SW1A 1NS
Tel: 0207 491 4840