Lunch in the City at High Timber:
An invitation to review High Timber coincided with spotting my friend Jeanne from Cooksister Instagramming from there. What better endorsement – I was super-keen to accept based on her obvious enthusiasm. I didn’t realise was that she’s something of a regular and a personal friend of Neleen, the very charming, convivial manger there. But, that wouldn’t have discouraged me a jot. Just along the river from the ‘Wobbly Bridge’, High Timber enjoys some spectacular views yet is set away from the hubbub of the City and offers the opportunity to enjoy some of the finest wines from South Africa with an excellent and well-priced food offering.
As usual, I was early and my dining companion was politely late. That simply gave me a chance to enjoy the view out across the Thames with a glass of Graham Beck Blanc de Blanc 2012 and some of High Timber’s own homemade Biltong.
Neleen explained that while the restaurant had South African links (it is owned by Jordan), the menu caters for an international clientele. The food has no more than a nod to South Africa and the wine list includes a wide range of South African wines but is complemented by a good selection of old world options too.
We were shown downstairs around the private dining room and we met up with chef Mircel McSween, right in the middle of a busy lunch service.
Back upstairs, our tasting selection of starters arrived. Biltong Croquettes were delicious, with a well-balanced filling and plenty of dark biltong flavours coming through. The Rooibos tea-smoked salmon was served with rye bread and horseradish. Hard to fault, it had a good texture and the horseradish was an excellent piquant and creamy accompaniment.
My favourite of starters was the seared beef and foie gras carpaccio with truffle, parmesan and croute. I love the transformation of beef into a delicate carpaccio and here, served with flavours of truffle and parmesan and a little rich foie gras, it was a decadent and indulgent option. I suspected I will be tempted again when I return.
Octopus carpaccio with pickled cucumber, potato salad and paprika was not on the menu. But, our tasting suggests that it very much should be – an excellent complement to the smoked salmon it had a meaty texture and a delicious fresh flavour.
With our starters we were offered two Jordan white wines to taste. The 2014 Sauvignon Blanc was crisp and fresh but with a more intense flavour than many of its French cousins. I was surprised how well it worked with our meaty starters – the beef carpaccio and the biltong croquettes. But it was light enough to be a good pairing for the seafood options too.
The Jordan Inspector Peringuey Chenin Blanc 2014 was citrussy and full of fruit. Apparently it is named after the 19th Century Inspector-General of Vineyards in the Cape, who led the fight against phylloxera and supervised the importation of American rootstocks onto which the various vineyard varieties were grafted. In an ‘only connect’ kind of way, a week later I was lucky enough to meet Gary and Kathy Jordan at a Stellenbosch dinner – more of that to come, suffice to say their enthusiasm and passion really sang through in the wines we were sampling
I’d asked for a recommendation for the main course – and was more than happy to indulge in the Jo’Burger with HT Chips and a little addition of some Monterey Jack cheese. While I try my best to pick lighter options (in the interest of my waistline), I am easily led astray. A simple endorsement and I’m there. No regrets, it was a superb burger served with crisp, HT chips.
My companion ordered the 250g Sirloin which he said was spot on, cooked perfectly to order. Two homemade sauces completed his order – a chimichurri and truffle mustard.
A whole range of accompaniments included delicious and unusual sesame snow peas with caramelised onions and chilli, garlic roast mushrooms and Alex Salad – one of the best restaurant side salads I’ve tried.
To drink, Jordan Cobblers Hill 2012, a classic blend of 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38 % Merlot , 12% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot. A peppery, red fruit wine that was an excellent pairing for both the steak and the burger and which I would happily have drunk more of had it not been lunchtime. Full in the mouth, this wine has all the complexity of an old-world wine.
Dessert probably wasn’t necessary but, the excuse of writing a review meant we both did pick something. My companion’s Malva pudding is classic South African comfort food, a sticky sweet caramelised apricot sponge pudding served with custard.
For me, a simple, light cheesecake with raspberries which tasted every bit as good as it looked.
Jordan Mellifera is a late harvest natural sweet Reisling. The apricot notes paired very well with the Malva pudding but the wine was delicious with my cheesecake too.
We both loved our lunch at High Timber and I will definitely be back. The restaurant runs a number of wine dinners and also has a great offer of steak, chips and a glass of wine on Friday nights for just £20. Something of a bargain in a part of town where prices can be very, very high.
8 High Timber Street,
City of London,
London EC4V 3PA