When offering a familial atmosphere is central to a restaurant’s modus operandi, the results can be questionable. Come across too informal and you risk echoing the less than enthralling realities of a mediocre TV dinner at home. Alternatively, come across too overbearing and you’ve aced the ‘weird-uncle-at-Christmas’ routine. In fact, it would seem running a genuine, family-friendly, home-from-home joint would prove to be pretty tricky territory. Now add to this a reputation for superlative beef, seafood and wine and you’re asking for a collision of expectations, which would essentially go something like: fine-dining in an unpretentious environment. Yes, and how many times have we heard that one? Well, it’s time to rejoice for there exists a real life establishment – here in London – that offers exquisitely rich food with an atmosphere that truly exudes a family feel.
The Palm in Belgravia. If you live in the area you’re most likely a patron. If you love a good steak, you, too, are most likely a patron. In fact, if you’ve ever searched for an informal but delicious place to celebrate, meet professionally, socialise, drink cocktails or nibble on small bites before a night out, then you also may know of The Palm. And if not, allow me to introduce the restaurant you’ll choose next time you decide to eat out.
With a £5 cocktail night on Mondays, a three-course power lunch menu and dinner deals perfect for date nights, The Palm really does cater to all. I will say it’s not particularly inexpensive, but then what do you expect from USDA prime strips and Nova Scotia lobster? What’s more, all side dishes are an extra chargeable item, so in brief, the bill will certainly add up. BUT, I promise your hungry little taste buds will be most grateful.
Okay, so there’s an expensive restaurant in Belgravia, what’s new? Well, there’s a small thing called service. It may sound cliché, but The Palm strives to provide an experience akin to a good old family get-together. And, on my visit, I can confirm this was charmingly the case.
Coming from an exceptionally large family of ten siblings, I think it’s fair to say I’m well-versed in sizeable family shindigs and meal times (and not the type that happen during the holidays, at Christmas or even once a week. I’m talking everyday: breakfast, lunch and dinner). On the evening I was graciously invited to dine, I found myself seated at a large table (formed of various smaller tables pieced together in true large-family tradition – of course minus the inevitable ‘one-chair-short’ situation) with a group of people I’d never met. Networking commenced: business cards were passed, Twitter accounts were shared, glasses clinked and a hearty feast was consumed. The night was a success and I have to credit the restaurant’s team and manager for making it so. With his Californian accent, the general manager added the final touch of Americana to the night. Oh yes, and the absolutely huge, American steaks we gorged on and tried really [really] hard to finish probably contributed too…
From the wall-lining booths, to the shuttered private dining rooms and quirky chariacture decoration, the London venue boasts exactly what you’d expect to find behind the doors of all The Palm’s US locations. With a colourful and well-documented history, the original Palm, which opened in New York in 1926, has set a precedent for all the other Palms to follow. At each restaurant, you’ll find the cartooned walls, cozy seating arrangements and happy, knowledgeable staff. But, if you’re looking for the real deal, stop by The Palm in New York on your next visit.
The original restaurant perches on 2nd Avenue – a stone’s throw from the world-renown distributor of comics and editorial cartoons, King Features Syndicate. In financially turbulent times when a meal was expensive and decorating a restaurant was too, a tradition soon emerged for local artists to ‘draw for their supper’. Cartoonists decorated the walls with unique, irreplaceable artwork and received a delicious meal in return. After 87 years, the initial restaurant still stands.
And I believe it’s this durable, seemingly unending quality and dedication, kept vehemently alive by the fourth generation of The Palm’s founding families, that drives the ambience of the establishment. An apparently built-in and authentic desire to provide a good time and see others enjoy themselves, just as you’d want in your own home. As I said, it may sound cliché and even tiresome for a restaurant to pride themselves on bringing a relaxed, family essence to your evening, but The Palm definitely wears the crown in that respect.
Address: The Palm, 1 Pont Street, London, SW1X 9EJ
Telephone: 020 7201 0710
Written by Jodie Jones
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