Dublin-born chef Robin Gill is bringing old-school culinary charm to the former Met Police HQ
Seven o’clock at London’s Great Scotland Yard Hotel. A gathering at The 40 Elephants cocktail bar is in full swing. Plates of canapés rush past, stacked high with slices of truffle cheese toast. A chandelier made from broken glass – a nod to the all-female gang of shoplifters the bar is named after – clinks over the rabble.
There’s a rich history here, one that dates back to 997, when part of the site was gifted to Kenneth III, king of Scotland. Better known, however, is that for 200 years this was the headquarters for the Metropolitan Police force. Now reappointed as a hotel, which quietly opened in December, it features four dining venues – all overseen by Dublin-born chef Robin Gill, chef proprietor of London establishments Darby’s, Sorella and The Dairy.
I’m here on a Wednesday night to sample what Gill has come up with at flagship restaurant The Yard. The menu, created in concert with executive chef Alex Harper, champions old-school culinary craftsmanship and British ingredients, but there’s also the odd theatrical touch. Jerusalem artichoke soup is embellished with a crisp of the root vegetable’s skin, decadently stuffed with crème fraîche and caviar; tender lobster comes wrapped as tortellini; and a chocolate mousse is lifted by a scoop of rocky road ice cream.
Topping the hotel’s theatrics, however, is a door disguised as a bookshelf. Hit a switch and you’ll find Sibín, a secret bar lined with whisky bottles and original artworks by Cornelia Parker. It’s everything you’d expect from a hotel that’s part of Hyatt’s Unbound Collection – a group of properties that includes Jinmao Hotel Lijiang, at the foot of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in China’s Yunnan province, and Hôtel du Louvre in Paris. But for its evocative backstory, Great Scotland Yard is surely hard to beat…