"Lanes of London is a smart place to enjoy interesting food"Review Rating: Reviewed by Sean Sheehan
A restaurant with a Park Lane address could put some punters off -- too posh, too exclusive – so it’s a relief to be able to report that such an inhibition has no place when it comes to Lanes of London. It is situated just around the corner from the top of Oxford Street, with views from the window tables of Marble Arch and its constant stream of red buses and black taxis. Equally welcome should be the news that although situated inside a Marriott there is little sense of it being a hotel restaurant. Its own entrance means faffing hotel guests in the lobby are not encountered and, once through the restaurant’s door, you are greeted by a member of staff and find yourself facing a bar and a generously spaced lounge area for pre-dinner drinks.
Before even looking at the menu, a glance at the drinks list reveals the concept behind the food. The four, pricey house cocktails (£18.50) are divided into four London locations – Brick Lane
, Edgware Road, Kingsland Road and Portobello Road – with each drink bearing an ethnic accent appropriate to the neighbourhood: for Brick Lane the cocktail has a flavour of aromatic tea and pomegranate seed; a punch for Kingsland Road is infused with Vietnamese herbs and spices … you get the idea. Better value, some may feel, are one of the imported beers, a London pale ale or glass of wine (all £5).
The food menu is similarly divided. Kingsland Road yields bun thit nuong (£7.90) and while it tasted gristly as first this was down to the multitude of small minced pieces and was more than OK. Portobello Road is a good excuse for reliables like hot dog (£7.90) and roasted bone marrow with horseradish cream (£7.90).
A walk through London offers a kaleidoscope of cultures and a culinary stroll in this restaurant entails mixing and matching different parts of the menu. The lamb skewers from Edgware Road make for good nosh but are even better with a samosa chat (£6.50), one of the three Brick Lane offerings, with a genuinely spicy flavour from its heady mix of pomegranate, tamarind, chickpeas and yogurt. The menu also has meat, fish and vegetarian sections so you’d be hard put not to find something that appeals to your preferences. I went for ‘crispy soft shell crab’ (£11.50) and it tasted good, with the crab in thin batter laying on a bed of apple salad with fennel and chilli, but two people sharing might end up squabbling over their shares of the fish; my crab must have suffered from anorexia nervosa.
Two people would find five selections (not counting the crab) quite sufficient for a good meal combining old favourites with a novel item or two. The wine list is not extensive but carefully chosen for variety, with four whites and reds under £40 and more than twice that number costing more.
All in all, Lanes of London is a smart place to enjoy interesting food. It is not the venue for a romantic meal but the atmosphere is pleasantly sociable and the irritation factor (i.e. other people) is commendable low, despite tables of work buddies discussing office politics as if it really mattered.
Sean Sheehan reviewed Lanes of London on Wed 26 Feb 2014