Blogger Reunion at the Guoman Tower Hotel:
The last time I reviewed the Brasserie at the Tower Hotel was the opening of the Shard. With spectacular views across Tower Bridge to the Shard itself, the hotel was in full party mode. Although the laser display put on for the opening was just a little disappointing, the meal itself was really not bad, though I understood that the head chef was quite new and hadn’t finished setting up his menu.
This time, a couple of years later, there’s another new chef. The menu is a little more traditionally British in tone, with lots of focus on the use of British produce. A small group of us were invited along to try the food and review the Brasserie – this time sitting indoors though still with great views out over the river.
The new chef Kamaldeep Singh, introduced the meal, a carefully prepared menu with matched wines throughout. My choice of Peppercord cured beef carpaccio was made with Casterbridge grain fed beef. We learnt that rather than cutting ultra thin slices, the Tower Hotel beat their carpaccio into thin strips to improve the texture. Served with manchego cheese, home cured tomatoes, charred artichokes, mizuna and micro cress this was a nicely balanced dish. On paper I still prefer grass fed beef. In truth, I probably couldn’t tell the difference in a dish like this – although a side by side test would be interesting.
The vegetarians were eating a delicious looking Grilled Vegetable and Goats Cheese Tart at this stage. It must have been delicious tasting too because not ONE of them offered me a taste.
My fish course of Pan-fried Fillet of Sea Bass with a diver scallop was perfectly executed with nicely crisp skin and a whole mixture of accompaniments including a pea puree.
The spinach and ricotta ravioli looked equally perfect
I am not a big fan of pork belly – generally I find it too fatty, so picked the vegetarian option of Risotto instead. For me this was the weakest dish of the evening, but I suspect that may be because I ‘need’ a good fresh chicken or veal stock as the base for the perfect risotto. Without that the texture doesn’t work. I’ve tried making risotto at home with a stock cube and with fresh vegetable stock and it never seems quite right to me. And of course, chicken stock really isn’t a vegetarian ingredient.
Meanwhile the true carnivores were tucking into a delicious looking pork belly. On paper a perfect dish, the mixture of celeriac, cabbage apple and calvados might be seen as a little autumnal, but this looked relatively ‘spring’ like.
Delightfully unexpected, a round of margaritas arrived and were downed very quickly – despite the matched wine that we’d been drinking throughout. I can see why, it was a great idea to pair with the trio of puddings, my favourite of which was the cheesecake (without strawberries).
I can’t eat fresh strawberries so a little dissection of the dessert was necessary before I could eat and enjoy this pretty trio.
Then home, via a walk along the banks of the Thames. A real reminder of just how beautiful London can be.