Brunch eaters fall into two camps. There are those who hear the word ’bottomless’ and prepare by skipping dinner the night before and stocking up on Pepto Bismol and there are those who are so religious about their three-meal-a-day routine that the idea of combining two meals into one big one throws off their dietary schedule. I belong to the first sector and my husband, the latter. So much so, that I catch him shoving a toasted bagel into his mouth ‘in case he gets hungry’ en route to Park Lane, a mere twenty-minutes from home.
The brunch takes place at the hotel’s main restaurant in the cavernous underbelly of the Intercontinental London on Park Lane. It’s not a bright space, but it is a perfect setting for a cosy winter rendez-vous. The sage-green banquette seating and wooden panelling add texture and warmth to the modern architecture making it a comfortable environment in which to pass a few lazy Sunday hours.
Our fellow diners are a mixed bunch. There are a few larger parties who we assume are on work trips and some families with young children who appear to be staying in the hotel.
To Eat and Drink
Our charming server offers us the option of bottomless Champagne, Prosecco or Bloody Marys and shows us around the impressive buffet spread. There are mountains of Greek and Caesar Salads piled high on vintage-style platters. There’s a build-your-own salad section with every dressing imaginable and optional add ons in the form of croutons, anchovies, parmesan and egg. There are light starters with a mezze theme; hummus, olives, cold cuts and smoked salmon mousse. There is a fruit station boasting a variety of seasonal and tropical fruit with yoghurt if you’re breakfast-inclined or cheese if you’re leaning towards lunch.
But the real piece de resistance resides on the roast station… The Intercontinental’s famous Beef Wellington. Succulent, well-rested beef tenderloin is encased in a fluffy herbed pancake, mushroom duxelle and pillowy puff pastry. The meat is perfectly medium rare and comes accompanied by a rich meaty gravy, crispy roast potatoes, a selection of caramelised roasted root vegetables, creamy cauliflower cheese and verdant greens with just a hint of salt and lemon.
If you have space after all of that, the dessert section is beckoning. And if like me, you never say no to a pain au chocolat, you’ll be pleased to know that they are available in miniature and form a small but integral part of the ample pastry selection. If you’re after something a little more desserty, you’ll be delighted by the dark chocolate and caramel choux buns, the fragrant raspberry set mousse or the velvety Biscoff cheesecake.
In a Nutshell
The psychology of a buffet is a strange one. I’m convinced that when one is faced with the prospect of infinity one is more inclined to hold back. It’s like going shopping with no money in your pocket and wanting everything, versus making the same trip when you’re feeling flush and finding nothing at all. So you’ll be pleased to hear that the Pepto Bismol remains in my pocket.
The London Beef Wellington race has become rather competitive of late. Gordon Ramsay, Bob Bob Ricard and various gastro pubs all offer highly-priced wellingtons to mixed acclaim. I might have to do a little more research, but I can’t imagine how The Intercontinental’s could be improved upon. And with the bottomless Bloody Mary’s and all of the delicious accompaniments, it’s excellent value. Come for the Beef Wellington and stay for… well… everything else.
On our walk back through Hyde Park, we pass a rather imposing statue of The Duke of Wellington on his horse. As I look closer, I can just about make out a small smile and I suspect, that’s in part, because the chefs at The Intercontinental London have done him proud
The Brunch Buffet is available every Sunday from 12.30am – 3pm and costs £89.00 per person. Unlimited Prosecco or Bloody Mary is available for 90 mins.
One Hamilton Place, Park Ln, London W1J 7QY