Test Driving The Dover – a glamorous NYC-style Italian restaurant in Mayfair

Looking into the dining room of The Dover – LOTS of wood panelling.

What can you tell us about The Dover?

This new restaurant comes from Martin Kuczmarski, who was Nick Jones’s right-hand man at Soho House for many years. With Jones moving away from Soho House, Martin has decided to do the same, opening The Dover. Unlike his previous employer, this is not a private club but it does have some of those vibes. As you enter The Dover, pushing a curtain aside to reveal the bar, it does feel like a hidden-away part of Mayfair. 

Food-wise, it’s been described as taking inspiration from New York Italian restaurants, but we’d say there’s a pleasingly old-school touch in there too. 

Where is it?

The name somewhat gives it away – it’s on Dover Street, which is about a five-minute walk from Green Park station. If you’re familiar with the area, it’s taken over the site where Automat once was (which was most recently Moncks of Mayfair). 

Record playerThere are lots of great touches throughout – this vinyl deck being a good example. 

How would you describe the look?

It’s been described elsewhere as “understated glamour” and that feels like a good fit. There’s lots of fitted wooden panelling, low and flattering (but not dark) lighting, and it all feels incredibly cosy while at the same time with a distinct “Mayfair” attitude. There’s an element of Soho House in here too – casual but not too casual – and a notably good mix of ages in the clientele.

roomPart of the bar. You see what we mean about the gorgeous wood panelling. 

Where should we go for a drink first?

Unquestionably, you should come here. As well as the main restaurant in the back of the building, there’s a sizeable bar area up front. We’re often searching for a decent bar in this particular part of town and think we’ve hit the jackpot with this opening. You’ve the option of sitting at the bar or relaxing on one of the wooden tables (see above). For drinks, they specialise in martinis, which gets them a strong tick from us, as well as their own takes on classic cocktails.  

On the martini side, you’ll find more familiar takes like the Vesper and Gibson as well as somewhat more out-there versions, like the Hot and Dirty (with olive and chillies) or the Sleepy Pony (featuring Trip CBD oil). We went for their signature (see below) as well as an excellent Konik’s Bramble (£17) which showed the bar team’s strength, getting just the right balance and not making the cocktail too sweet. In all, we think we’ll find ourselves returning to this bar again and again. 

roomThe Dover martini (Konik’s Tail, Cocchi vermouth, orange bitter, £18)

So, onto the restaurant, where should we sit?

The corner tables are the best, and if you’re looking for something a little more discreet, the far corners of the room (particularly on the left as you walk in) are what you’re looking for. But that said, anywhere is good, with tables all spaced nicely so it feels busy but you’re not jostling elbows with your neighbours.

On the way into the main restaurant, are probably the best-looking tables – three booths, each with a chandelier above. Although you are dining in what’s essentially the way in/out of the main restaurant, these are unquestionably the loveliest in the house. 

roomThe three alcove tables, just outside the main restaurant

And what about the food?

As mentioned, the restaurant is being pitched as a “New York Italian” and looking through the menu, it does have that feel of a classic American brasserie. So there are more classically NYC Italian dishes like Hot Penne Arrabbiata (£14/19) or Spaghetti Meatballs (£25), the latter of which seemed to be a strong favourite on the night we went. There’s also a lot more beside that, including a very strong snacks menu which we lingered on instead of going for too many starters. 

Here’s a taste of that snacks menu, which is also available in the bar.

roomCrispy potato cakes with caviar with lemon crème fraîche and Oscietra (£23) – the most expensive snack but well worth it. 

roomQuattro formaggi ‘on toast’ with crispy focaccia and black truffle (£10) – if the potato cakes are too much, this mini version of a quattro formaggio is a pretty close second to that. If you’re just popping in for a drink, it’s the perfect bar snack. 

roomZucchini & asparagus fritti with (lemon, aioli, jalapeño (£9) – the jalapenos work wonders and the presentation is on point.

Then it’s onto the main event – just room for one starter given the snack overload, but here you’ll also find some pleasingly old-school dishes like a prawn cocktail or smoked salmon and blinis.  

roomUSDA prime beef steak tartare with truffle & hazelnut salad (£18 or £25 as a main) – it may look fairly standard, but the seasoning on this tartare was spot on. 

There’s a salads and pasta section too – but we skipped straight to the mains. And talking of old school, the main course started with this beauty.

roomChicken cordon bleu with prosciutto cotto, Fontina, pizzaiola sauce (£29). A classic dish done incredibly well.

roomInside the chicken cordon bleu.

roomUSDA filet mignon 220g with bearnaise (£46) – steak perfection.

roomMash & jus (£8) – mash and gravy has become a bit of a thing on London menus, and this version is up there with the best.

roomFries (£7) – We love the way these are presented. Good fries too.

Anything else worth mentioning?

The Beef Arrosto with mash (£30) is something we would have properly considered if we’d seen it before ordering our mains. It’s a large plate of thinly sliced roasted beef arranged in a ring on the outside of the plate, with mash in the middle and the whole lot covered in red wine sauce. It looked amazing.

And dessert?

Finally, onto dessert. It’s a smaller list than the rest with only four dishes (at the time of writing). We had a baked cheesecake brûlée (£10) which was decent, but the real winner here was the following:

roomChocolate & hazelnut praline on the plate with Peruvian dark chocolate and Piemonte hazelnuts (£13) – essentially a melted Snickers bar.

What about drinks? 

Alongside the cocktails, there’s a pleasingly compact wine list (about 50 bottles) with prices starting at £40 a bottle which is fairly standard for Mayfair and a fair few around the £40-£60 price point. It’s primarily an Italian list, but we were pleased to see quite a few American wines on the list too. That’s what we went for, a 2020 pinot noir by Salt & Stone (£62) which was a pretty perfect match for the meal.

Overall thoughts? 

The Dover opened relatively quietly (although we’re assuming Soho House members were more clued in on it than most), so we weren’t quite sure what to expect from it. It turned out to be an extremely assured new opening. Owner Martin has created a restaurant with real Mayfair glamour that’s a whole lot classier than many of its neighbours. We can see this becoming the absolute go-to for anyone wanting to dine somewhere stylish but vibey in this part of town.

 

More about The Dover

Where is it? 33 Dover St, London W1S 4NF

How to book: Book online

Find out moreVisit their website or follow them on Instagram @thedoverrestaurant.

Hot Dinners ate as guests of The Dover. Prices are correct at the time of writing

 

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