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Fishing in the City – Angler Restaurant Review:
There are times when I have a meal which is immaculate. Those times are few and far between, because normally something isn’t quite in order, even if it is simply the background music or a member of staff having a bad day rather than the food itself. When it happens, it is a joy, whether the food is a burger or the most perfect three star Michelin dinner.
On this occasion, Angler at the recently opened South Place Hotel in the City, managed something that for me was quite perfect. And, it was also quite unexpected.
My invitation to review the food at South Place Hotel crossed over from last year when I took a very quick look at the restaurants and asked if we could visit Angler, simply because I planned to take The-Hedonist, my pescatorian friend, and thought he’d appreciate the extensive range of fish dishes. If, like me, you find the buzz of the city oppressive and look for calm and tranquillity when you are dining, then do make the same choice regardless of your preference for surf or turf. The downstairs brasserie style Bar and Grill is lively, vibrant and, on a Friday lunchtime in the heart of the city, quite busy. On the top floor of the hotel, Angler is a peaceful oasis with a pretty roof terrace and light, airy décor.
Of course starting with a glass of champagne always helps. But, so does perfect white table linen, tiny pots of African violets and sparkling silver cutlery. The difference is in the detail. And, little cheese sables served on a slate were a great accompaniment to our aperitifs.
Lobster cappuccino as an amuse bouche was classic. Light and frothy with tiny morsels of lobster hiding in the warm soup, it disappeared in an instant.
We shared a shellfish platter to start, which I found fascinating, mostly because we had the chance to try three different types of oysters (Colchester natives, Mersea rocks and Irish rocks). All fabulous, I think my favourite were the Irish rocks…but, then again I might just be tempted to go back and try again;). The platter also included langoustine and dressed Cornish crab and a Cherrystone clam each. Very refreshing, not too heavy and beautifully presented.
We happily took the Sommelier’s recommendation of a glass of Spanish white wine, Ailala Treixadera Ribero from Galacia which was light, refreshing and just acidic enough to stand up to the shellfish.
Now, normally at this stage I’d be yearning for meat. And the menu has some really tempting, simple meat dishes – Steak, partridge and guinea fowl, all of which I love. But, from what we sampled, it is the fish you should come here to enjoy.
My Steamed Wild Bass with crushed potato, herb salad and sauce vierge really was picture perfect. And tasted as good as it looked with the crushed potatoes just adding a little substance to a fish dish that might otherwise have been a touch too delicate to support the sauce
The-Hedonist enjoyed Roast Turbot, served with brown shrimp, capers, butter and parsley. It looked lush. I tasted. It WAS lush.
None of this is complicated or fussy food but, for me at least it was faultlessly cooked and presented. My Sea Bass was flaky, moist, light and nicely flavoured, with a piquant sauce vierge the perfect accompaniment. The Hedonist’s ‘meatier’ dish of turbot and brown shrimp was substantial, comfort food for a chilly winter’s afternoon.
Again, we were given matching wines for the dishes, in my case a light South African Chenin Blanc – False Bay 2011 while The-Hedonist enjoyed a more robust chardonnay, 2007 Cambria Katherine from California, which to be honest I would have happily just sat and drank for the rest of the afternoon (but which was sadly far too heavy for my delicate Sea Bass!).
We shared the desserts, a caramel trifle and roast figs with yoghurt and honey parfait and pistachio. For both of us, the fig dessert was the better dish, but, neither option failed in any way. And the dessert wine was a perfect complement, a Brumaire 2008.
Coffee and fresh mint tea came with petit fours of pistachio madelaines and fudge.
Now, I really enjoyed the food, but as it should be, it was the completeness of the offering that made it special. From careful and very appropriate selection of wines to the smooth service and well informed staff. It’s a haven in the City and I hope that it doesn’t get so popular that the current ambiance is lost. In the summer it will be a fabulous and rather romantic place to dine, with a pretty terrace overlooking the roofs of the City. I’m guessing it hasn’t been picked up by the food fanatics of London yet because it is part of D&D and is in a hotel. So, go while you can – for the City, it’s reasonably priced with a set menu of £25 for two courses and £30 for three and with wines from £8 a glass!
South Place Hotel
3 South Place
London, EC2M 2AF