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March 1, 2013

Food Friday Review: The Goring

By Spear's

If you’re sick of gimmicky, concept-driven pop-ups, the Goring offers the comfort of traditional English cooking and faultless service

WITH SO MANY new restaurants popping up in London all the time, it can be easy to forget some of the city’s more established eateries. But a recent trip to see what’s cooking at the Goring these days reminded me just how high the capital’s gastronomic standards are, and that we shouldn’t overlook excellent traditional cooking in favour of gimmicky, concept driven pop-ups.

The Goring has featured in Spear’s before, most recently in our Hotel Index, so I needn’t spend too much time on the décor and general ambience of the place. What I will say, though, is that standards of service are conspicuously, pleasingly high from the moment one enters.

My guest and I were warmly greeted, seated at an excellent table in the corner of the dining room, and offered an aperitif so smoothly and efficiently that before we knew it chilled glasses of champagne and menus were in front of us; our sommelier, the waiter said, was on his way.
THE KEY TO the Goring’s menu, currently overseen by Executive Chef Derek Quelch, is fresh, British ingredients cooked simply but to perfection. It’s not the place to come if you’re after meat-fruit or bacon and egg ice cream, but there are few better restaurants in London if you’re after traditional English cooking and faultless service.

I’ve always thought of omelettes as intolerably bland, so a taste of my guest’s glazed Scottish lobster version of this usually-boring dish was a great surprise. A wonderfully light but creamy texture was complemented by generous chunks of lobster and, although it looked a lot on the plate, my guest told me it was just the right amount for a starter.

My guinea fowl terrine with pickled mushrooms and chickweed, although bafflingly served without bread, was packed with flavour, the gaminess being nicely offset by the sweetness of the mushrooms.
WE DECIDED ON a meat-fest for the mains: duck for me and ox tail for the plus one. The duck was perfectly cooked, and accompanied by a deliciously rich port sauce. The ox-tail was cooked, Spanish-style, until it was so tender it was falling apart, and had the depth of flavour that can only come from the finest quality meat. The accompanying vegetables showed again that ingredients are all: a simple portion of caramelised red cabbage, for example, was to die for.

The service throughout this deeply satisfying and flavoursome meal was impeccable, with a waiter appearing out of nowhere if you embarked, for example, on the irksome task of trying to refill your wineglass. Amid the flurry of new London openings the beginning of 2013 has seen, don’t forget that the Goring is still doing what it’s done so well for over 100 years: traditional English cooking with the finest fresh ingredients.
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