Staying at The Berkeley Hotel for almost two weeks, I’ve enjoyed my breakfast in the Caramel Room every day. Several times, being too busy to go out, I also had lunch/dinner here, both with my colleagues and alone. The place seems perfect for solo dining, meeting a colleague or a friend or two, but is hardly too comfortable for a large group.
As far as I noticed, it’s very popular for the afternoon tea, Prêt-à-Portea as they call it. Every time I was having my dinner, there were many tea-drinkers around.
The Room is not too spacey and can conditionally be divided into the main hall with the bar area and a row of tables stretched along the window. Most of them are for two persons, with two larger ones at both ends, where you can seat on a settee. Window area was my top choice. But you can’t do much people-watching there. The restaurant is located next to the entrance to The Berkeley hotel, so your eyes are on the quiet narrow and never too busy Wilton Place.
The Room faces the sunny side in the afternoon. So it gets very hot, especially at the tables along the window. Not sure if the air conditioning system was absent, or not functioning, or switched off. They never turned it on even after we complained on the heat. Window curtains didn’t help much.
The bar in the Caramel Room was very good. It has saved us the trouble of returning to Cipriani for Bellini (see my separate review of the disappointing experience there); all cocktails done decently here.
Large olives, assortment of nuts and bread sticks are offered while you’re setting your mind on the menu.
For a dining experience, you can choose from two menus – All Day Dining and Dinner menu, the latter offering any two courses for ₤35 or any three for ₤45.
From the Appetisers, Tomato and buffalo mozzarella and Classic Caesar salad, both from All Day Dining, were a safe harbour impossible to spoil. Crispy Dorset crab cake with chilli marinated vegetables from the Dining Menu was not bad, but not fascinating. If you’re fine with its strong scent, Tuna and sweet corn panini with jalapeño and cheddar from All Day Dining is worth trying as an interesting experiment on the tuna sandwich theme. The taste is rather coarse and simple, but sometimes that’s what you need.
From all the main courses that I tasted there, worth trying are Berkeley burger (with hand cut chips, grilled tomato, chilli and relish) and Grilled lamb cutlets (with courgette, ratte potatoes and red onion marmalade), both from all day dining; also Grilled sea bass fillet (with Swiss chard, squash arancini, celeriac & truffle mousse) from the Dining Menu.
Sesame crusted salmon fillet with cucumber risotto from All Day Dining was absolutely delicious when I ordered it first time. But when I repeated it on my next visit, the fish didn’t smell too fresh to me and I had to return it. Hence I’m mixed about it.
Don’t even bother ordering a dessert here. All that I tried – Almond orange cake, Apple tart with vanilla cream and Valrhona chocolate jelly – were a total disappointment. Yes, the description sounds delicious, but don’t buy it; the outcome is rather average.
With one exception perhaps. During a business event in The Berkeley hotel we had amasing Cream caramel served. Surprisingly, it was not in the Caramel Room’s menu. A colleague of mine who adores this dessert asked if it still could be done. Shortly she was enjoying her délice. Not my cup of tea, but she said it was savoury.
Service was very good. I knew all the waiters from my daily breakfast experience so it was like eating at your favourite place at home. As other reviewers mentioned, there were many Eastern Europeans, but I didn’t have any problem with understanding them. Everything was done fast, with a pleasant smile and readiness to help, but non-intrusive.
Overall Caramel Room dining experience was very pleasant and can be recommended. I’m only rating it average because it hasn’t exceeded my expectations, although certainly not disappointed, except on the desserts’ side and that tainted salmon, the only bad food case in all my visits there.
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