The Colony Grill at The Beaumont: London's finest steak joint?
With a sturdy reputation for a superb cut of meat, Tempus headed to this classic American eatery to see what all the fuss is about — and left more than satisfied
Bedecked with red leather banquettes illuminated by Art Deco lamps, and occupying a thematic space somewhere between a Manhattan speakeasy and a virtual-reality Great Gatsby experience, there’s a subtle playfulness that sets The Beaumont hotel’s Colony Grill apart from its Mayfair contemporaries.
In a neighbourhood where white-tablecloth stuffiness rules supreme, The Colony has long maintained a reputation among some of the most seasoned writers in British food journalism as a stellar visual arena in which to dine on some of the finest food in West London, such is the fervour with which it adheres to its Roaring Twenties aesthetic.
As such, those to whom The Colony have played host in the past may have actually worried somewhat when an 18-month closure courtesy of Covid-19 allowed for a major interior overhaul. But they can rest easy, for Tempus can report that none of the magic has been lost; instead, this refurbishment defined by meticulous attention to detail has led to a change in the artwork, a redesign of the lighting and the installation of a gargantuan glass wine cabinet that upon our arrival hadn’t quite been finished, highlighting the extreme recency of The Colony’s rebirth. Thankfully, this reimagining of the dining room is far from overwrought or over-thought, offering a charming and almost cinematic backdrop to what would be a memorable evening with my companion who, in tonight’s case, would be my father.
Offered a cocktail on arrival by the dapper maître d' Lionel, we managed to coax a knowing smile from him when we both opted for the rather contrived choice of an Old Fashioned which, cliche or not, were superb. By refraining from going all-in on the orange zest and bitters, the caramel of the bourbon was afforded more room to dominate the palate, making the drink feel considerably more indulgent — and delightfully boozy — than I was accustomed to.
As we struggled to pick our starters and mains from a menu crammed full of enticing Euro-American classics, diligent wait staff in impeccable white suits ping-ponged between our table, the kitchen and the bar, occasionally stopping to peruse the wine selection in search of the perfect pairing. This, as it turns out, is one of The Colony’s myriad fortes.
Our first course, a sharing plate of fresh Irish and American oysters, appeared at our table on a large stand, and was shortly followed by a glass each of a delightfully pale-looking white, served cold enough that a few beads of condensation dripped down the side. A classically Piemontese white, this was a 2018 Fausto by the vineyards of Marina Coppi, the wine-making granddaughter of legendary Italian road cyclist Fausto Coppi. Gently citric with an unusually earthy quality for the style, this was no run-of-the-mill afterthought of a match-up, each sip teasing out the buttery brine of the oysters to a remarkable extent.
Aware of The Colony’s rather American reputation for a fine cut of meat, my father and I initially opted for safe bets when it came to main courses. I went for the New York strip, while my father, ever a man of expensive tastes, plumped for the dry aged fillet. Halfway through our order, however, Lionel raised a respectful hand and, brimming with the culinary authority found only when a Frenchman must explain his cuisine to his English counterparts, recommended we instead turn our attention to the special — a gargantuan chateaubriand for two, carved and served tableside. As malleable pawns in this grand game of meat, we acquiesced and soon found ourselves presented with soft, delectably juicy mountain of steak waiting to be transferred to our plates. Despite it being far too late by this point, I used this moment to turn to Lionel to hesitantly ask “… what is a chateaubriand?”
To any fellow laypeople reading, “chateaubriand” refers not only to the steak, but also the cooking method. What is served to the diner is the centre — i.e., the most tender cut — of the fillet of the cow, but during preparation this steak is sandwiched between two “lesser” cuts of steak, which are then discarded once cooked — as they are on the outside of the chateaubriand, they are often heavily charred. This excessively indulgent method leaves an inner cut that is effectively as tender as a steak can possibly be.
As far as recommendations go, this was up there with the finest I’ve received; this was a cut of meat so succulent and so exquisitely cooked that I wanted to swan dive over the back of my chair to personally hand slices of it to my fellow patrons just to see their faces when they taste it (having of course overcome the shock of me acrobatically gate-crashing their dining experience). The meal was accompanied with a choice of peppercorn, red wine and bearnaise sauces, making use of which, despite their outstanding quality, felt close to sacrilege. Instead, we simply basked in the delicate, butter-smooth flavours of the beef, only occasionally stopping to sample our sides of chargrilled hispi cabbage and a superb bone marrow ragout.
A few glasses of a 2018 Amalaya Gran Corte Malbec helped us withstand the intense post-meat comedown; while a truly memorable cut of beef, it had felt somewhat like eating an entire cow. Though this is not a meal for the faint-hearted, it is arguably the best steak to be found anywhere in London. Or in the UK, for that matter.
Having regained our strength we alighted our table, gave our thanks to the wait staff and soon found ourselves face-to-face with the Beaumont’s newest addition; a spectacular hand-crafted humidor, the contents of which can be purchased and enjoyed on the similarly newly opened outdoor cigar terrace, part of the on-site Le Magritte Bar. Here, we were introduced to Antonino, the bar’s manager and resident cigar sommelier.
As two less experienced smokers, we were nudged toward the lighter end of the bar’s offerings, and before long I found myself puffing on a Quai D’Orsay while my father had been sized up as a San Cristobal man. As we woozily knocked back Woodford Reserves and a couple of extra-anejo tequilas, we bathed in the moment and, through a thick screen of Cuban cigar smoke, agreed to return to The Colony at the earliest possible convenience.