Home Food & DrinkRestaurants Grab a superb plate of sunshine: The Good Front Room at The Langham

Grab a superb plate of sunshine: The Good Front Room at The Langham

by Rachel Blackmore
good front room jerkchicken feat

The Good Front Room, London’s exciting new Caribbean restaurant, is perhaps not what you’d expect to find at a hotel as traditional as The Langham, known for its afternoon tea and the culinary residency of French dynasty super-chef Michel Roux Jr. Roux has recently announced the impending closure of Le Gavroche, where he holds two Michelin stars, and also stated that The Langham’s Roux at the Landau will not reopen. Citing work-life balance as his reason, Roux is ready to hand on the baton to the winner of Channel 4’s Five Star Kitchen: Britain’s Next Top Chef, on which Roux was a judge. That man was Chef Dominic Taylor and The Good Front Room is his tribute to his Caribbean heritage and the room in his great aunt Myrtle’s house that was reserved for entertaining special guests. 

good front room chef_dom_2023For those who have visited The Langham previously, some things are still familiar. The lobby is still impressive, the location ideal and the Artesian bar still serves an excellent pre-dinner cocktail. Once you move into the Palm Court at the centre of the hotel, things are a little different. Gone is the serenity of tinkling piano keys and clinking cutlery. The space has had a vibrant overhaul with bold art prints of colourful fashion and the music (mostly selected by the chef himself) is a mix of funk and soul classics. The palms are still here, but menus and soft furnishings have been covered in the kind of striking maximalist wallpaper pattern that many of us remember from the rooms of childhood and, presumably, the good front room at Great Aunt Myrtle’s. The waiting staff were dressed in wallpaper print dresses or dusky pink jackets and tweed trousers – and all wore white trainers. The clientele, lively groups of friends and couples, seemed to be a better reflection of London’s diversity than I’ve seen at some other fine dining restaurants and a spirit of conviviality was pervasive. 

good front room cocktailsThe menu at The Good Front Room provides guidance to some ingredients that are less familiar in British cuisine: rum, plantains, goat and sorrel (a flower like hibiscus, not the sharp, green herb). These ingredients appear in several places on the menu, including the specially curated cocktail list. Duty-bound, this was where we first directed our attention, ordering the Caribbean Queen, a tequila based cocktail with salted caramel and tamarind, and a Sorrel Cosmo, which was fruity, but not in the limey way that one might expect from a cosmo.

Our consensus was that these were interesting drinks, but a tad on the sweet side for our palates. We were also served a bowl of vegetable crisps, a mixture of sweet potato and plantain, while we made our choices for the rest of the meal, ably guided by the charming Abdullah. Both he and assistant manager Flitan were very attentive; when they were so efficient that we asked to slow the meal down a little, this was done immediately to accommodate our preferences. 

For the first course, we chose two dishes that are classics of Caribbean cuisine. The jerk chicken was strips of juicy boneless thigh with a smoky charcoal sear, blackened sweetcorn dressing and plantain jam, creating the perfect balance of flavours when tart charred lime juice was squeezed over the top. The second dish was ackee and salt fish cake, a spiced croquette of salt cod with a scotch bonnet and garlic sauce, a cold salad of heirloom tomatoes and grilled pineapple and escallion oil. We preemptively ordered a side of the hot pepper sauce that was technically served with the mains and this had ample kick, nicely spiced with a deep warmth like a hot little hug.  

good front room ackeeIt wouldn’t be The Good Front Room without an invitation to the special guests to enjoy another round of cocktails. This time we opted for a carrot cake punch which was a little like drinking liquidised Christmas cake (in a very sweet, but good way) and the piña verde, a cocktail based on Chartreuse with pineapple, coconut and lime. Being rather more fans of the savoury cocktail, we admitted defeat after this and moved to a crisp Saint Martin Chablis 2022 from Domaine Laroche. The cocktail creations are tasty, interesting and in keeping with Caribbean flavour profiles, but beware that they are definitely on the sweet side!  

The main courses are more examples of traditional Caribbean fare, done exceptionally well and set to impress all the special guests invited to Aunt Myrtle’s good front room! We chose Chef Dom’s Curry Goat, his signature dish, which was melt-in-the-mouth goat shoulder, served on the bone with a big wedge of breadfruit, a roti on the side and a spicy, earthy sauce. We also chose the banana leaf baked sea bream, my personal favourite, which had a sauce under the skin that was zingy with lemongrass and spiked with ginger. It was perfectly cooked – meaty enough to eat with a fork, but falling apart in the mouth. In the spirit of good front room hospitality, all the sides are served whatever you order. We enjoyed the crisp veg slaw, herby green plantain gratin, sweet coated, starchy sweet plantain and, of course, hearty rice and peas. 

good front room goatDespite the substantial portion sizes, there is always room for dessert. The menu advises that the cocoa bean pud is for sharing and it isn’t wrong. In the shape of a lifesize cocoa bean shell, the crisp dark chocolate coating was scattered with cocoa nibs and contains a coffee-chocolate mousse with chunks of ginger cake. We couldn’t finish it, even between two of us and even when the menu description reads like a list of my favourite flavours. We tried some of the dairy-free coconut milk soft-serve ice cream on the side, but that was another sizeable portion and, while it was light and delicious, we barely made a dent in it.  

Unconventional as it initially seems in this setting, The Good Front Room is part of a food movement focused on traditional cooking with a refined twist that celebrates the diversity of the UK’s culinary influences and, once you dine here, you only wonder why it has taken so long for this rich and flavoursome cuisine to get the recognition it deserves. The Good Front Room is where you entertain your most important guests, so pop down to Chef Dom’s Good Front Room at The Langham to entertain your partner, family or friends. You don’t even need a reason – every day is a celebration and there’s a plate or two of sunshine here just waiting to put a smile on your face. 

The Good Front Room
The Langham London
1c Portland Place
Regent Street
London W1B 1JA
United Kingdom

Author

  • Rachel Blackmore

    As a child, Rachel began a lifelong love affair with words; she has been known to eat several whole ones after wine-fuelled debate. A passion for learning has led her to acquire Masters degrees in both English and Education, and she continues to pursue her interests through school-based ERC-funded research and writing fiction. With Dutch, Irish and Indonesian heritage, she loves travelling, experiencing different cultures and trying to learn new languages. Rachel is intrigued by anything unusual and sometimes gets so excited about food that she neglects to take a photo.

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