Al Dente

Al DenteTel: +44 (0)20 8759 2535
Address: Sheraton Skyline Hotel, Bath Road, Hayes, Middlesex UB3 5BP
Cuisine Type: Northern Italian
nearest tube station Heathrow Airport (Terminals 1, 2, 3)

Having been to our fair share of airport hotels and their adjoining restaurants, hubby and I felt duly equipped to take on Al Dente, the Sheraton Skyline Hotel’s on-site dining establishment.

Billed as contemporary yet classic Northern Italian cuisine, we surveyed the menu separated into four main sections: antipasti (starters), pasta e risotto (get your carb fix here – starter or main portion sizes available), secondi (main dishes) and dolci e formaggi (puds and cheese).

To watch our waistlines – mostly me, to be honest – we opted for three courses instead of the suggested four. I was highly tempted by the code do gamberi al pepe rosa, prawn tails with a pink peppercorn dressing and fennel orange salad, although our waiter insisted I try the raviolo aperto, open ravioli with sea scallops, sundried tomatoes and sautéed spinach. The dish was elegantly presented, but frankly a bit bland for my taste.

Strangely, hubby bypassed the insalata tiepeda di quaglia – honey ginger cured quail salad with egg and truffle oil – to sample the variante do pomodoro, a tomato variation consisting of spicy tomato soup, bruschetta and a tomato basil sorbet. Again, beautifully arranged with thoughtful textures, but lacking the desired kick. Could the restaurant be tempering their flavours to accommodate travellers’ varying and finicky tastes? Perhaps. Although also to consider were more than 300 people being fed in a nearby private party, and a significant number of room service orders, to be expected for a hotel of this size and functionality.

Our sophisticated main plates were decidedly feistier. Branzino d’amo su crosta di sale, seared bass fillet over sea salt crust, baby potatoes and two-way leeks was happily more strongly seasoned with a combination of soft and crunchy leeks and generous, delicate pieces of the fish. My second choice would have been the grilled blue fin tuna steak with saffron risotto and rucola salad – shame to be limited to only one main course! And from my side of the table, braised thyme lamb shank and creamy potato mousseline seemed to go down without an utterance of complaint. A fine selection of Italian wines (wines from other regions available too) was also on hand to accompany our fare.

I must admit our desserts were quite a high point of the evening, incorporating dramatic touches and sweet combinations of gooiness. Hubby was particularly vocal about his tiramisu (three versions no less), which included strawberry, classic and ice cream versions. My three-way coffee pudding was equally delicious, offering a coffee-flavoured ice-cream, panna cotta and millefeuille.

As in most hotel eateries, you expect prices to be a bit higher. With starters at £8.00 to £10.00, main dishes up to £24.00 and desserts from £6.00 to £8.00, you could easily walk away with dinner for two at £100.00. That said, most folks eating here will be on expenses, so possibly not so much of an issue.

Service is genuinely friendly, and Chef Marco di Tullio is well-versed in the hotel restaurant world having been at Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace hotel and The Marriot Hotel’s Porte de Monaco. Overall, a wonderful place to wind down for a tasty and stylish meal after a busy day travelling, or an inviting and relaxing space to hunker down for a business lunch or dinner.