Dinner at the Tower Hotel Brasserie – Shard Opening:
When I booked to visit and review the Tower Hotel, I knew nothing about the Shard opening. Honest! I did know that the Hotel had a new chef and a rather stunning view. So I thought it would be good to sit there while the sun set over the river.
There’s a large and comfortable brasserie, informal but quite smart and a couple of terraces looking out over Tower Bridge. Rather surprisingly, the weather was great, so we sat outside. The menu has some London brasserie standards (steak and chips, burgers, fish and chips, chicken liver pate) with some more unusual dishes such as spicy pan fried atlantic cod with chickpea and chorizo broth. I think we both erred on the side of caution with our main course, which in retrospect was probably not the right decision. Starters are under £10 and mains between £10 and £20, in an area which can be rather expensive.
I started the meal with a timbale of smoked salmon tartar and crab salad, while my companion enjoyed some succulent scallops with baby fennel on coconut mash. Both dishes were well executed and fresh, as well as rather beautifully presented.
Our main courses tasted fabulous, but presentation was not quite up to the standard of the starters. In particular the lamb had what was intended to be a thyme jus but seemed rather strong to my companion. But the ingredients were clearly high quality and to some extent it was that the presentation and execution of our starters was over and above what we expected from a Hotel brasserie.
The new executive chef, Christian Rozsenich came out to talk to us and told us a little of what he was trying to do. He’s aiming to gradually introduce new dishes to the menu that stretch the boundary of a normal brasserie and are presented perfectly.
At his recommendation I chose the elderflower semolina dumplings with marinated saffron apricots. It’s not something I would have picked…semolina is something that has memories of bad school dinners. But these were light and fluffy, fragrant with elderflower and accompanied by piquant apricots and a fresh vanilla ice-cream.
Service throughout was excellent, despite the fact that the venue was busy both because of the Shard opening and because of an event being held in the function rooms. As it happens the Shard opening turned out to be something of a non-event, although the party spirit was great and I really rather like the addition to the Southbank landscape. We all stood around waiting for fireworks, but what actually happened was a laser show that was probably rather better from the air than from land and some clever lighting of the building.
The Tower Hotel Brasserie is a great place to have lunch or to sit on a summer’s evening and have drinks and a meal with friends or to meet business collegues. And, I’ll be interested to see how the food progresses under Christian’s direction. In retrospect, chef’s recommendations for the main course would have been useful, because I really enjoyed the dessert he chose!
Disclaimer: We ate as guests of the Hotel.
The Tower Hotel,
St Katharine’s Way,
London E1W 1LD