The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is less of a destination and more of a pitstop. It’s an ‘I haven’t got a table for the Blumenthal yet’ kind of purgatory.
Finding ourselves here after a friend’s birthday dinner, I suppose we were expecting an indulgent, becouched, besuited den of iniquity, but instead found short-sleeve shirts and a tiny bar.
The environment and décor felt a bit dated, but not dated enough. The 90s pan-Asian feel and cramped spaces were awkward. The lounge music suffered a similar problem. But if you were lucky enough to find yourself in a comfortable space like we had, you’d have a chance to deconstruct the cocktail menu in your own time.
Which was odd. It’s insistence on an ‘Oriental’ feel ended up with a minestrone issue. “Is this flavor used on the other side of the planet? Let’s throw it in with half a dozen other ingredients, one spirit and probably some bubbly.” None of the drinks really stood out. One example is the Fig Martini – drowned in pineapple juice. The Grass Mule, for example, would have made a fantastic East Asian Martini without the ginger beer.
In need of a warming drink, I went for the Dine (Cognac, Port, red wine, Angostura, almond, lemon), which was pleasant enough, but not much to write home about. It stood out because unlike many of the drinks, it was alcohol-based with flavor – instead of a juice smoothie with alcohol thrown in for kick. I must applaud the use of avocado in the drinks as well, which is a nice change from egg white for similar texture.
Of course, if juicy drinks are your thing, by all means make your way to the Mandarin, but judge if 16.50 is what you want to pay for one drink that doesn’t feel all that deserving – especially when you have similarly priced giants like the Savoy or the Dukes – I don’t see myself rushing back any time soon.
NOTE: I would give drinks 3 stars to make room for those who enjoy juicier drinks, but with the price they are charging for mediocrity, I am tempted to give it only 2 stars.
Drinks: ** (***, possibly.)
The Mandarin Bar
Mandarin Oriental Hotel,
London SW1X 7LA