Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Palm, Belgravia - Exceptional service and steaks to match!

I’ve never been so looked after in a restaurant.  Ever.  And it wasn’t just because we were there reviewing; every single table in The Palm on the night we visited, were receiving exactly the same level of service and attention.

Accompanying me for this review was my friend Rudi.  He’s a big South African guy and he knows his steak!  And I thought he’d be the perfect critic.  As it turned out, there was very little to criticise.

The Palm is a grand old place - full of character and charm, with a big bar area at the front for New York style cocktails (take advantage of their brilliant happy hours where the time determines what you pay…)   There’s tables and booths at the back, a separate room which is opened on busier nights and a beautiful downstairs area which can be hired out for private parties. 

Originally supposed to be named after the owners’ hometown of Parma, the owners of The Palm were misheard when registering the company and so it was given the name it goes by today – run by the 4th generation Bozzi and Ganzi families and almost 90 years later, with well over 20 restaurants across America, but only one here in London.

Extremely welcoming from the offset, the Supervisor Ezio showed us to our booth table at the back of the restaurant…  The booths are big!  Plenty room for 4, and probably enough room for 6 – perfect for taking clients out to dinner and equally as good for a private or intimate meal with your friends or partner.

Our waiter Alex greeted us like an old friend (even though we’d obviously never met him before!)  A lovely and knowledgeable guy who knew everything there was to know about the different cuts of corn fed US steak, and even more about the wines – a charming connoisseur when it came to the Californian reds!

On his recommendation, we chose a Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, from the Stone Barn Vineyards near Napa Valley.  Filtered and decantered, this was a delicious red bursting with plum, blackberry and vanilla.  Highly recommended.

After much deliberation over which steaks to order, (they were brought to our table and all looked soooooo good…), I went for a medium cooked Fillet Mignon.  Rudi chose the medium rare New York Steak.  And after placing our orders, we had a nice amount of time in which to supp our wine and snack on a delicious basket of flat breads, raisin breads and baguette.

This also gave us plenty of time to admire the quirky charicatures on the walls, made up of a mixture of celebrity faces and restaurant members.  We were later told that all members of the 837 Club (which is £25 to join and gives you £25 off your next meal), are also given points each time you dine.  If you reach 15000 points, you’re comissioned a picture on the wall!  How cool is that?!  Alex also told us that the painted wall tradition dates back to the 1920’s when Bozzi and Ganzi opened the first restaurant in Manhattan and couldn’t afford to decorate it.  In an attempt to add some character, their large clientele of cartoonists would often draw on the walls in exchange for their suppers.

While marvelling over all of these charming tales, our starters arrived…  Rudi ordered a Carpaccio with rocket and parmesan.  I had the Lobster Bisque.  Wow.  Absolutely the best bisque I have ever tasted.  Smooth, creamy and bursting with flavour.  Simply divine.  In fact so good, that I didn’t possibly think our steaks could match up…We shouldn’t have worried though, they most certainly did!

I’d asked for my Mignon to be cooked ‘Pittsburgh’ style – meaning it had been cooked at a very high temperature to create that charred burned effect on the outside, while the inside was still the medium I’d asked for!  What a great decision that was.  Accompanied by spinach, green veg and all 4 complimentary sauces – hollandaise, béarnaise, chimichuri and peppercorn; it was a really satisfying and mouthwatering meal. Rudi devoured his steak too.  And having tasted some good steaks in his time, he maintained that his New Yorker was ‘pretty amazing’.

Surely no room for desert then?!!  Well… No.  Not really.  But that was before we’d clapped eye on the the huge hunks of cheesecake and carrot cake. The carrot cake.  You have to try it to believe it.  A legendary wedge of pure delight.  Sticky and moist, this has to be the best ever.  I challenge anyone to find me a better one!  Even Rudi, (who is a guy and guys don’t ‘do’ cake), was in total agreement with me on this one…

And so, The Palm, an extremely memorable meal.  Wonderful staff, charming stories, and this philosophy: ‘Treat guests like family, serve great food, and always exceed expectations’. 

I’d say they deliver on every level.  And just a couple of thousand points to go before I can get my face on that wall.  Better book in again soon…


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