Aaaah hotel restaurants. In this country at least, they can so easily go wrong.  And I don’t know about you, but when I think of a hotel restaurant, I think mainly of the hotel. That has a restaurant in it. 

But Kitchen at Holmes felt different. We were sat within arm’s reach of the open-kitchen with a huge island, which seemed to be dedicated to plating and beautification. The black, white and grey tones throughout the dining room reminded me of my own home décor: a bit industrial but also soft and calming, nice lighting, and neutral tones. 

From the small plate selection, we opted for some pita and whipped feta (to see how well they do the simplest of concoctions), tuna tartare, some Iberico and some black truffle arancini. And let me tell you, those arancini stole the show. A crispy coating generously filled with oozing gooey truffle-infused rice, adorned with generous shavings of fragrant black truffle. The pita and feta were good but not exceptional, the tuna was fantastically seasoned and balanced well with the crunch of the rice tuille and the Iberico speaks for itself … it needs nothing and we promptly forgot about the cugna it was served with (it’s a quince and sugar paste) because it simply didn’t need it. But seriously, if you go, order the arancini. It’s worth it. 

From the bigger plates we quickly agreed on a braised beef cheek and a grilled plaice. And while the beef cheek – tender, melt-in-the-mouth, just the right level of bite, with a deep burgundy flavour – was very good, the absolute game changer was the grilled plaice. It was served whole, with a dollop of salsa verde and half a grilled lemon. Simplicity incarnate. And once we got past the initial “how in the world do you eat this” conversation and got stuck in, we only came up for oxygen once the whole dish was demolished. It was delicate and succulent, mellow but satisfying in flavour, fantastic on its own, wonderful with a bit of lemon, even better with a dollop of salsa verde. 

And before I leave you, a note on the drinks. Although our first choice of cocktail wasn’t available, the selection is solid enough to find something you’ll like. We went with a gin-based cocktail with hibiscus and cranberry (yum) and a simple margarita (also yum). Upon requesting a wine suggestion, our lovely server very quickly and confidently came up with a fantastic pairing, so please don’t be afraid to ask. These guys seem to know their wines. All in all, despite a few slightly forgettable dishes (including the dessert), we walked out of the building satisfied and now writing this a few weeks later, I’m still fondly remembering those arancini … go for those. Stay for the plaice.