Right up your street? | Lanes of London, 140 Park Lane, London W1K 7AA
At least once a week I see a tweet asking for recommendations of where to go for a family meal. There are usually fussy parents involved, who’ve travelled down from a far away sleepy town. They’re not ‘ready’ for the kind of food London has to offer, leaving their offspring exasperated and out of options that will please everyone.
Step forward Lanes of London, a new concept (yes, I know what you’re thinking, but do keep reading). This new restaurant on Park Lane (don’t let that scare you either) has designed a menu serving up sharing dishes covering four of London’s food districts. There’s Brick Lane (Indian) Kingsland Road (Vietnamese) Edgware Road (Lebanese) and Portobello Road (British classics).
We were invited down on the preview night, we do prefer to experience a restaurant as a ‘regular couple’ on a regular night, but this one has too much food to cover in one sitting, this was simply the best way to do it. We were relieved to discover that the restaurant isn’t actually as posh as it sounds. Although the entrance is pretty grand and the interior decor is lovely – drawing on the 1800s from when the building was designed. Think marble with brass detail, racing green banquettes and delicate hanging glass shades and you’ll get the idea. It has a hotel attached – the Marriott Park Lane Hotel, with which the restaurant shares its toilets. Traipsing through the hotel reception down to the loos does somewhat interrupt the flow of the dining experience though.
Francesco Turrini from Mark’s Bar at Hix, Milk & Honey and The Luggage Room heads up the bar. Every good restaurant needs a character, the chatty and humorous Francesco is just that. He supplied the quote of the evening whilst talking about the brisket sliders… ‘I used to be a vegan till I discovered bone marrow’ he said in a tongue in cheek way. The cocktail menu that Francesco created mirrors the food – concoctions inspired from the same London districts. We loved the idea of the stackable sharing cocktails. The Yellow Star Punch £18 for 250ml, a fruity and fragrant cooler of white wine infused with Vietnamese herbs and spice (from the Kingsland Road section) and Daisy from the market £18 for 250ml, a uniquely British tipple of sloe gin, strawberry, red wine and spices – a little like sangria, but better.
Executive head chef is Anshu Anghotra, previously of Raymond Blanc’s Industry Cooking School at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Zodiac at Hanbury Manor. Anshu hails from India and that shines through with the Indian dishes – including the Butter chicken with Cumin rice and paranthas £9.50. The Samosa chat - vegetable samosa salad, chickpeas, yoghurt, pomegranate, Tamarind and mint chutney £6.50 was by far our favourite dish, authentic with a great mix of textures. Although at the other end of the scale, the Beef brisket sliders with roasted bone marrow and horseradish cream £7.90 from the Portobello Road section were really good too, as were the Scotch eggs with piccalilli pickles £6.90.
The Green papaya salad £5.90 from Kingsland Road was OK, but it didn’t leave me reaching in for another spoonful. It lacked the punchiness of the Thai version that we’re more familiar with. From Edgware Road the Fattoush salad – Sumac, lemon and olive oil dressing £4.90 was surprisingly tasty. Kafta Meshwi – minced lamb skewers with Babaganoush and smoked aubergine £5.90 were bold and juicy.
Dessert was a little hit and miss, the Caramelised banana and chocolate digestive ice cream £3.95 was masked with an artificial banana flavour, apparently earlier in the week the balance was better. The light and refreshing Soursop and lychee sorbet £3.95 was a far more balanced dessert. The mountanous Double chocolate gateaux was impressive both in appearance and taste.
We were won over by Lanes of London, despite being sceptical when we first read the press release, we visited with open minds and left with a full bellies. Service is top-notch and the food is far better than we anticipated, we had wondered just how authentic all these dishes could be. We didn’t want it to be a Jack of all trades, but a master of none!
Usually we prefer the whole experience that goes with eating out at an Indian or Vietnamese restaurant etc. It’s not just about the food, it’s the little things – the music, the smell, the ambience. But Lanes of London does its intended job and certainly has a role to play in the capital’s booming restaurant scene. Like I said in the beginning, it’s an ideal solution for those fussy family members, or when you just can’t decide what to eat.
Opening Hours: Tue 12:30 – 3pm, 6pm – 10:30pm.
Wed – Mon 12:30 – 2.30pm, 5:30pm – 10:30pm
Nearest station: Marble Arch