Bachelorhood is sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse. Please forgive me for starting with a pithy one liner but the conversation which revolved around the dining table dwelt on this theme for a not-insubstantial amount of time.
One of our number was sadly without his other half. Not because he had been abandoned on the side of the road, like a little puppy left to fend for himself but for the simple fact that he hadn’t bothered to find anyone interesting in his decades of life. Shock and horror then quickly erupted on the table. Like all good friends, we ganged up to pressure/intimidate the bachelor towards making steps to seeking holy matrimony. The issue then came up of where to start. Among the teasing and bullying, our food arrived.
Sizzling Mongolian lamb. This was interesting. In my previous experiences with Mongolian lamb, the lambiness (for want of a better word) was particularly pungent. Yet this dish managed to avoid it. I missed that authentic taste but admit that the milder version may be a better crowd pleaser.
Stewed Bean Curd with Seafood in Casserole. This was not bad. The lovely umami flavour of the seafood had sunk into the bean curd to create little flavour parcels. This was definitely a dish to impress a date.
Crispy Golden King Prawn. Looked great, didn’t taste as good as I hoped. The prawns just lacked a little extra kick and seemed rather bland. Perhaps it was because I love garlic so much that other king prawns that I have had which are liberally doused in such spice are more to my liking. It was ok, edible but nothing to write home about.
Fried Rice with Crab Meat and Diced Seafood. Unfortunately again, here the food suffered from that most grievous of sins in Chinese food. Not tasting much of anything. Sadly something that is best given a miss. Maybe like when you have that slightly edgy person at a speed dating event. Maybe best to move on quickly.
Here, while we had a break from the food, we returned to the conversation at hand. It appeared that most of the members around the table were in agreement that online dating seems to be the way to go. While exploring the intricacies of internet dating, the bachelor expressed disgust and horror at stooping to the world wide web to find a mate. Yet the resounding answer seem to be if you didn’t look and just proceeded to sit on your hands, it was highly unlikely that anyone would drop into your lap. Probing questions, testimonies of success and piercing questions then ensured. The bachelor still seemed rather unimpressed. Similar to my thoughts on the food so far.
Roast Duck. I was rather unmoved with this rather average duck. This sadly was lacking the lovely dark sauce when eaten at other Chinese restaurants I would often frequent. The plum sauce, although a staple of the western palate was not the way I would usually roll. A case of looking ok, tasting worse.
Emperor chicken. This was more like it. With a clean yet slightly salty taste, the taste of the chicken shone through. This was probably one of the best dishes of the night. Definitely a dish to remember as it made up somewhat for what had preceded it.
Braised Bean Curd Skin with Shimeji Mushroom and Asparagus. This was unfortunately rather uninspired. Consisting of rather unimaginatively stir fried vegetables, I thought I could have done that myself. That’s not a compliment if you were wondering.
Banana fritters with vanilla ice cream. This is probably one of those standard Western crowd pleasers. I take guilty pleasure in enjoying this. I actually missed this and found it brought me back to childhood days of joy. Bananas, fried, with ice cream. What is not to like?
Although we endeavored to finish with a sweet treat to make up for the bitter medicine the food sometimes administered, it unfortunately didn’t seem to have enough of an uplifting effect to blot out memories of what had gone before. In a restaurant which was an altogether excellent venue to discuss the finer points of courtship, we were unfortunately unable to overcome inertia. The restaurant was fairly empty, the staff not hurrying us along by any means and the vaulted high ceiling helping to dispel the loud exclamations of protest. A pleasant enough place to spend a dinner chatting with friends but not really somewhere you would choose for the food. I guess sometimes, we all have to learn a bit of patience. I mean, of course, improvement in the food.
A quiet eating 5.5/10.
Dinner (8 dishes shared between 7) was GBP23 excluding drinks and service.
The Grosvenor Hotel
101 Buckingham Palace Road
London SW1W 0SJ