Belgravia on an unseasonably Arctic March Saturday evening is about as far out of my comfort zone as I can possibly go. Luckily, the welcoming staff at The Palm London did everything in their power to make us feel right at home.
The Palm has all the laidback luxury of an old-fashioned New York family-owned restaurant – a far cry from the frenetic East London pop-up eateries that have been the vogue of late. The food however, was anything but old-fashioned. It took all the best parts of comforting American dishes, dressed them up in a sophisticated manner, and laid them out in a setting that was so easy-going, I felt I could have moved into our cosy leather booth permanently.
PrimeTime is a new initiative where the clock determines what price you pay for Prime Bites and cocktails. 5pm costs £5, 6pm costs £6… up to 9pm where it is held at £9 until closing. The Prime Bites menu was familiar, I have seen similar dishes on many American-style menus of late, but like the setting, they were effortlessly luxurious updates.
I could devote a good few paragraphs to the Nova Scotia Lobster Fondue. Rich cheddar cheese sauce was cut through with a hint of Sam Adams Boston beer and mixed with chunks of lobster and smoky bacon. It was served with warm rolls sprinkled with bacon salt (an epic invention) for scooping, and was utterly addictive.
Most of the other dishes were surpassed by that fondue, but the Prime SteakBurger sliders were impressively juicy and flavoursome and the Dirty Shrimp, panko bread-crumbed and tossed in Creole spices, were like delicious prawn popcorn – made extra moreish when dipped into the fondue! We also tried the Calabrese Flatbread with buffalo mozzarella and the Calamari Fritti, which went down well with the cocktails.
Between the two of us, we sipped a fruity Red Velvet with vanilla vodka and fresh raspberries and a True Brit: locally sourced Sipsmiths Gin and English sparkling wine lifted with lemon juice. My personal favourite was the Spiced Cucumber Collins, a mind-blowing-angry-mule-kick of a drink with Peppa vodka and cayenne pepper. It cut through the fried foods on the menu perfectly.
The Palm’s main concern is their local clientele. Such is their devoted following that they have created a mural of caricatures of their regulars- a tradition carried over from the New York restaurant. However, even as visitors from the East, we still were made to feel like prized regulars (our server, Sheila, was a delight).The restaurant was buzzing on a Saturday night, and children are welcome, but it never felt overwhelmingly busy or noisy, which makes a nice change.
The Palm offers old-school glamour with a nu-school twist, an oasis of calm and sophistication in the heart of Belgravia.