LDNReview

photo credit: The Dover

The moody dining room at The Dover.
8.5

The Dover

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Italian

Mayfair

$$$$Perfect For:Getting Out Of TownCatching Up With MatesDate NightGetting Out Of TownFirst/Early in the Game DatesBirthdaysSpecial Occasions
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The Dover is the epitome of understated glamour. It’s filled with half-melted candles and people we’re pretty sure are famous, and an evening at this Italian spot in Mayfair left us feeling like we’d just been to London’s most exclusive afterparty. The kind where you could play footsie at the bar and continue flirting at the table over excellent, citrussy dover sole or come for a strictly-tier-one-friends birthday celebration that ends in a creamy baked cheesecake you’ll think about for the next week.

Once you pass through the heavy maroon curtains at the entrance, it’ll feel like you’ve accidentally entered an invite-only members' club. The bar area is all plush sofas and £18 cocktails, and even though it’s a small space, private conversations are comfortably had over complimentary popcorn. Books line the shelves on either side of the room, giving the whole place a ‘wealthy person’s library’ feel to it. The dark dining room, lit only by tall candles on each table, is a place where couples flirt and friends poke their heads around prawn cocktail towers to get a word in.

The Dover dining room interior

photo credit: Rianne Shlebak

A four person table at the dover

photo credit: Rianne Shlebak

Despite the fancy-looking surroundings, the servers chatter away and parade around the room with a giant black pepper mill. While most people in the room are one connection away from someone who owns a private jet, you can still get away with wearing trainers and laughing loudly without getting any side-eye.

There is no wrong order here. Everything we’ve tried has been great, but the winning formula involves the dover sole which is a buttery, tangy dish that’s perfect for sharing. From the pastas, the parmigiana, which arrives in a pool of creamy béchamel, is one of the best versions we’ve had in London. The rest of the pastas, while perfectly enjoyable, aren’t the highlight of the menu. The rich, nutty chocolate and praline plate, however, is a dessert that’ll make you forget Nutella. 

Whether you bring someone you fancy or assemble a gaggle of friends when feeling fabulous is a priority, The Dover, with its cool, if-you-know-you-know feel, delivers every time.

Food Rundown

Three salmon blinis from The Dover Mayfair

photo credit: Rianne Shlebak

Smoked Salmon Blinis

The perfect bar snack, these bite-size blinis are smoky and tangy.

The lobster roll at The Dover, Mayfair

Lobster Roll

Another excellent dish to snack on if you’re sat at the bar. The lobster is tender and chunky, and the bread has more butter on it than a croissant.

The Dover image

photo credit: Rianne Shlebak

“The Dover” Sole

This is the most expensive thing on the menu, but each time we’ve eaten it, it’s been the best thing we ate that week. The whole dover sole, turned up at the corners, comes swimming in a shallow puddle of butter. Red chilli and chunks of lime make every bite pleasantly tangy, the tender fish disintegrates before you even chew, and if you’ve got some bread left over you should use it to mop up the rest of the sauce.

Parmigiana from The Dover in a parmesan fondue sauce

photo credit: Rianne Shlebak

Parmigiana “Americanata”

The correct way to eat this softened, meaty aubergine, layered between barely-there pasta sheets, is to drench every forkful of pasta in the creamy parmesan fondue. This is a must-order.

Green Avocado

Hello 50 shades of green, this zingy avocado salad has a sharp lemon and mustard dressing that’s got a nice kick to it. Get this for the table.

Hot Penne Arrabbiata

The measure of a good Italian restaurant is their arrabbiata. And based on this rich, tomatoey, garlicky version, The Dover is comfortably in the ‘more than good’ category.

The lobster ravioli at The Dover

photo credit: Rianne Shlebak

Lobster Ravioli

This sounds exciting, but it’s our least favourite pasta. It could use a bit more seasoning and you’re better off getting a fish dish than this seafood pasta.

The Branzino fillet at The Dover

photo credit: Rianne Shlebak

Branzino Fillets

Tender white fillets, served with a spicy, smoky, harissa-infused olive caponata, is great value for what you’re getting. And if you get the mashed potato to eat alongside it, the combination of soft fish and creamy potato just gets better and better with each bite.

Baked Cheesecake Brûlée

The creamy, yoghurt-like centre of this cheesecake pairs perfectly with the sour cherry compote on top.

The chocolate and praline plate at The Dover

photo credit: Rianne Shlebak

Chocolate & Hazelnut Praline On The Plate

We agree with the server who described this dessert as “Nutella, but dark, and better”. This Peruvian dark chocolate paste is topped with crunchy hazelnuts and flaky sea salt—and scraping spoonfuls of the rich paste straight into your mouth is the best way to end a meal here.

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FOOD RUNDOWN