Sometimes I just love modern life. I’m thankful I’m alive in a period of time when reality tv actually becomes reality and I get to try out The Good Front Room at The Langham, the winning restaurant concept of Channel 4’s Five Star Kitchen: Britain’s Next Great Chef.  

The six-part series saw a handful of chefs pitch a fine-dining restaurant concept to The Langham’s Michelin-starred Culinary Director, Michel Roux Jr, pastry whiz Ravneet Gill and restaurateur and chef Mike Reid. The trio in turn put the chefs through their paces until one was crowned the winner and turning their concept into a reality was their prize.

Private chef from South London Dom Taylor won the series. For the most part, he wowed the judges with his homely, flavoursome Caribbean-British cuisine to open The Good Front Room in the hotel’s Palm Court.

Dom’s concept is easy to grasp. With The Good Front Room, he wants to bring the soul and comfort of British Caribbean dishes to the fine-dining crowd, using dishes from his childhood that speak of his Caribbean heritage and London upbringing as a starting point.

Your Local Guardian: Dom set up The Good Front Room in The Langham's good front room, the Palm CourtDom set up The Good Front Room in The Langham's good front room, the Palm Court (Image: The Good Front Room)

Even the pop-up’s name draws on Dom’s childhood nostalgia, and is a tribute to his great aunt Myrtle, who kept one room of her trinket and doodah-filled house off-grounds for curious children so to preserve it for receiving guests.

So it’s fitting then that the pop up is held in The Langham’s Palm Court, which is also a good front room of sorts, usually occupied with receiving guests for afternoon teas.

Not much can be done with Palm Court’s interiors – it already is what it already is - however I assume the delightfully nana floral centrepiece and individual table arrangements were a tip to great aunt Myrtle and the bold statement artworks on the walls announced Dom’s arrival.

While the show’s judges spent a lot of time banging on about whether dishes were 5 stars or not, it wasn’t the food which was out of place at The Langham, but the service.

Your Local Guardian: Chef Dom Taylor, winner of Five Star ChefChef Dom Taylor, winner of Five Star Chef (Image: The Good Front Room)

It was as if all of the floor staff were on their first day; lovely, polite and working hard, but a bit all over the shop. It took an eternity for the drinks and food orders to be taken, yet the mains arrived so promptly, I was still searching for starter remnants between my teeth as the course came in.

Was the service five star? No, but the food was top-notch.

Dom’s goat curry, his most triumphant dish of the series, was on the menu, and the rum slow-cooked pork belly, which comes with smoky charred hispi cabbage, also sounded very good.

Your Local Guardian: Dom's goat curry was a stand out dish on the showDom's goat curry was a stand out dish on the show (Image: The Good Front Room)

While my diner date Andy was underwhelmed with his jackfruit patty and mango and palm heart salad starter, he perked up with his generous bowl of daal. Made with chunky gungo peas rather than lentils, the flavoursome pool came with dollops of coconut labneh, and roasted pumpkin wedge and tempura banana blossom perched on top. It wasn’t a particularly pretty dish (daal rarely is) but oof, it was tasty and had a lot going on.

I, on the other hand, could have eaten another of the ackee and salt fish cake logs I had as a starter, and possibly another after that.

Slicked with garlic and scotch bonnet aioli and sitting alongside a pile of pineapple and heirloom tomato salad and a drizzle of verdant escallion oil, each bite was a glorious bright and busy mouthful.

My banana leaf baked seabream main was creamy tender and just as lovely. Charred ever-so-lightly and it left a gentle piquant hum on the lips.

Sides came as serves for the table and were also very good. The plantain glazed with lime and maple and topped with chili was sticky sweet yet sharp and I could have eaten it by the fistful. The Green banana gratin had the same heft and comfort as if it were made with potato, and the okra and fennel slaw’s crunch was softened with a little dairy-free yoghurt.

Your Local Guardian: The ackee and salt fish cakes were moreishThe ackee and salt fish cakes were moreish (Image: The Good Front Room)

Desserts all sounded rich, apart from Andy’s generous swirl of coconut soft serve sparked up with pineapple compote. I tried the bun and cheese, mainly because it sounded like a cheese-board sandwich of sorts which is right up my alley.

The dish was not far off expectations, Dom had turned the classic Caribbean snack into a deconstructed dessert sarnie. A blob of tart sour cherry compote oozed through a slice of spiced loaf and the fat slug of musty blue cheese lying nearby was ready for smearing and muddling up with the dot of creamy plantain chutney that sat alongside it.

The Good Front Room at The Langham will end in six months’ time, but let's hope Dom's winning streak continues beyond this.

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