A pleasant, wood-floored, open room with floor-to-ceiling glass windows and decorative floor-to-ceiling glass shards as space dividers. The tables are bare wood, clean lines, and the chairs dark brown or red leather. Rusticated beams define the parts of the ceiling not painted a generic white, and a motley assortment of vases with Japanese lines provide personality, each bearing a bouquet of small purple peppers. It's noon on a Sunday, and I'm the first person to arrive for lunch, although the bar is well-occupied. By one, two or three more groups have joined for a meal too.
The London Carriage Works's menu is appealing: I resist the salad of Barkham Blue cheese with walnuts, chicory, and apple; and plus the braised Duroc pork with apple salad. This is because - after a rash of indecision - I have settled on the wood pigeon. I give in because it comes with a wild mushroom and caramelized shallots risotto which proves amazing - rich, smoothly sweet, indulgent, delicious. The wood pigeon is a little tough, but then they usually are.
The theoretical downside to ordering the dishes I did is that they are both sided with risotto. Still, they are mighty different risotti. Potted shrimp risotto is lighter, creamier, and refreshingly speckled with finely-diced fresh pea pods. It's the bed on which a pan-fried slice of salmon is served, its nicely-cripsed skin still encrusted here and there with salt. A tangle of delicate salad greens, dressed, cuts through the light sweetness of fish and risotto.
Eton mess tempted me, and Cambridge cream educated me, but I actually ordered the chocolate fondant with white chocolate ice cream and toasted almonds. The fondant was exemplary, but the white chocolate ice cream - like most of its breed - was merely okay. Quady orange muscat always goes nicely with a not-very-dark chocolate, but it's too bad they were out of my first choice of dessert wine.
Service was friendly and usually helpful, ambiance was pleasant, and as hotel restaurants go, it's mighty fine. Overall, it serves classy comforts, improving on classics more than blatantly innovating, and that's okay. It's accessible enough to be a good local restaurant, if you had the budget for it.