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Winter Menu – Oxo Tower Brasserie Review.
New to London or just visiting? You may not have even ventured South of the River. I urge you to try for yourself and cross the water to walk along the banks of the Thames, from Westminster or Waterloo to Blackfriars or Tower Bridge. The Southbank is a vibrant part of the City, without the hype of East London or the price tag of Mayfair. Apart from the stunning views back to the City, you’ll be rewarded with a plethora of street entertainment, shops and stalls. You could choose to wander into the Festival Hall or the National Theatre, to check out the exhibitions at the Haywood Gallery or Tate Modern. Or, like me, you could make for Oxo Tower, a 67-metre high tower sitting on the banks of the Thames just before you reach Blackfriars Bridge. The Oxo Tower Brasserie, which I was about to review, must represent one of the best value quality meals in London.
Originally the site of a power station built in 1900, much of what is now the Oxo Tower was demolished in the 1920s by the new owners, Liebig Extract of Meat Company who made OXO meat products. At the time no advertising was allowed along the river but the new owners were keen to promote their wares in whatever way they could. So, in a moment of design genius, their architect, Albert Moore created four sets of 3 vertically aligned windows – each set spelling out the word OXO. At the time it was London’s second-highest commercial building, designed to process meat delivered by barge along the river. Now, the building acts as an exhibition centre and is also home to the Harvey Nichols group’s first-ever restaurant. The OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar and Brasserie opened in September 1996 at a time when there was nothing like it in London. It’s stayed popular ever since. Who wouldn’t enjoy a cocktail or meal at the Oxo Tower Brasserie or Restaurant with such a fabulous view?
I’ve been to the restaurant a couple of times recently – to enjoy their stunning afternoon tea and to try the a la carte menu there. But, I haven’t eaten at the informal brasserie for a while so welcomed the chance to review their Winter Dining menu priced at £30 for three courses and a cocktail. Sitting at a river view table listening to the gentle jazz duo, I did question why it had taken me so long to come back. A relaxed environment with no dress code and great river views can be hard to find in London – especially one where you can rely on being served good food at reasonable prices.
We started with cocktails. The menu includes two house cocktails – one with Grey Goose La Vanille Vodka, Cartron Vanilla Liqueur, orange juice and lemonade, the other based on Patron Silver Tequila with pink grapefruit juice, agave syrup, and soda water. Both are long cocktails which would be ideal if you didn’t plan to order wine with the meal. The Grey Goose was deeply vanilla scented, while the tequila and pink grapefruit offered a lighter and fresher option.
From the three starters on offer, we picked the mackerel with pickled golden beetroot and horseradish, apple and celeriac remoulade, which was stunningly presented. My companion loved the piquant remoulade with fresh horseradish notes and tangy apple complementing the crunchy celeriac. The third option was vegetarian and a similar format was followed throughout the menu, with three alternatives including one vegetarian at each stage.
My beef cheek and oxtail ragu with macaroni, wilted rocket and truffle cheese was a real winter pleaser and a substantial dish that would satisfy the heartiest of appetites. A rich, deep slow-cooked stew paired with perfectly al-dente macaroni all smothered in a light cheese and truffle sauce.
A main of crispy-fried cod with chorizo and butter bean stew and parsley aioli was similarly generous with large pieces of lightly battered cod topping a Spanish style bean and chorizo stew that was a meal in itself. So far not only was our review of the Oxo Tower Brasserie going well, but it was also filling us up fast!
Chargrilled chicken breast came with curiously coloured heritage mash, delicious rosemary and garlic confit tomatoes and a salsa verde. The chicken itself was lightly charred and carefully cooked without any dryness. Another substantial dish, I ended up abandoning mash in favour of a side order of tenderstem broccoli.
On to desserts: Perhaps ordering sticky toffee pudding given how much I’d already eaten was foolish. But, it was exactly what I wanted on a cold winter’s night and was a classic dish, albeit one I couldn’t quite finish.
My companion enjoyed the pretty and delicious chocolate and hazelnut mousse with a banana sauce which came beautifully garnished with caramelised banana and hazelnut praline crunch.
The wine list at the Oxo Tower Brasserie, like that at the Restaurant, includes a selection of Harvey Nichols own-label wines. They are excellent value and we particularly enjoyed our Harvey Nichols Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc (2017) which is priced at £33.50 a bottle.
All in, as reflected in this review, our dinner at the Oxo Tower Brasserie was a relaxing and convivial experience and one which I will definitely look to repeat – not just for the view! Generous portions of well cooked and beautifully presented seasonal dishes at a price that works even in January seems good to me. Should you prefer a more formal setting we also recommend the adjoining Oxo Tower Restaurant
Oxo Tower Brasserie
Oxo Tower Wharf,
London SE1 9PH
T: 020 7803 3888
Our Oxo Tower Brasserie review was as guests of the restaurant. All views are editorially given and we were not obliged to write a positive review.