Last Updated on October 9, 2017
The Wigmore at the Langham Hotel:
When someone creates what is obviously a winning formula we all wonder why it hasn’t been done sooner. Converting what was The Langham Hotel‘s spa into a traditional London tavern with a luxury accent sounded unlikely to me, but the actuality of The Wigmore is a stunning space with an innovative and moreish menu and with a drinks list that includes some great cocktails, beers, and wines.
It opened recently and one of the team went along to the launch. I was keen to see how things were settling down – and try some of the food and cocktails for myself. Once an old banking hall, The Wigmore’s interior design is by Martin Brudnizki Studio and makes great use of the dramatic high ceilings with a large chandelier, deep emerald green walls and art deco table lamps.
Of course, having Michelin star chef Michel Roux Jr in the kitchen and managing the menu is a great starting point. What’s interesting here is that The Wigmore has a menu which manages to be British without boring – both traditional and yet creative. It’s very, very clever – I wanted to order everything and despite attempting restraint still ended up with far too much. Given this is part of a Five Star hotel which I know best for a very luxurious London hotel afternoon tea the prices are excellent – it’s perfectly affordable with snacks starting at £5.00.
The drinks list is the work of the team behind The Langham’s award winning Artesian cocktail bar. There’s a ‘modern wassail’ with Somerset Cider Brandy, Pusser’s Gunpoweder rum, mead, apple, liquorice bitters and blackberry and rosemary sherbert. There are ‘hoptails’ – shandies made with a lot more than lemonade. There are classic cocktails and artisan Gins. And there’s a whole range of cask and keg beers and ciders, wines together with Tavern lemonades which are alcohol free.
I started with a Deluxe Gin Punch, served in a small silver punch glass while my companion ordered a hoptail, ‘The Season of the Witch’ with bathtub sloe gin, spiced cyser mead, mango grapefruit, fresh raspberries and The Wigmore’s own Saison (a traditional pale ale that is usually a little fruity). the Gin Punch was delicious, not overly sweet with a good blend of Cointreau, maraschino, raspberry liqueur and EDV bitters, lemon sherbet and, of course, London dry gin.
Meanwhile, we were getting just a little carried away with the food menu.
Ordering three items from the ‘snacks’ section as starters seemed like a good idea, but we missed the XXL against the stovetop toastie. It’s definitely one to share – or have as a main course, with Montgomery, Ogleshield and Raclette cheeses mixed in with pickles to make a deliciously piquant filling for the sourdough toastie.
We’d also ordered buttered crumpets with steamed cock crab – tiny traditional crumpets topped with teaspoons of fresh crab
And the Masala spice scotch egg, which is actually made with quail eggs coated with smoked salmon and then with a hedgehog like shell and served with a creamy, lightly spiced dahl relish.
At this point, I was glad that I’d picked one of the lighter dishes from the mains section – mussels, cider, and smoked ham. The mussels themselves were beautifully plump and the cider with smoked ham broth so good that we both wanted to spoon it up.
My companion’s ox-cheek and ale pie came with beautifully glossy raised suet pastry crust which opened to reveal a rich ox cheek and gravy filling.
We also enjoyed our sides of buttery hispi cabbage, very moreish crisp fat chips with bloody mary salt and tomatoes served with graceburn soft cheese and lovage.
Now, on to dessert. Given we had already eaten far too much, I’m not sure how we managed three desserts between two of us. I think it was a total inability to choose from any of the options. Dulcey chocolate soft serve with blackcurrant compote, pistachio and almond crumble was my favourite of the three, though I suspect that’s mostly because the creamy white chocolate was a good contrast to the piquant broth of the mussels.
Dark chocolate and orange mousse was delicate and refined – the kind of thing I’d like to serve up at a dinner party.
I didn’t taste the raspberry trifle because we thought it might have strawberry juice in the jelly. But, that meant I got the lions share of the Dulcey chocolate soft serve which is definitely on my ‘when I go back’ list.
And go back I am sure I will. A buzzing atmosphere, fabulous food, a well balanced and reasonably priced wine list and the kind of cocktails that might belong in Alice in Wonderland all conspire to put The Wigmore top of my ‘where to meet friends’ list. It’s not formal, you’ll have to find your own space. But, with wine prices starting at £5.50 for 175ml and main courses from £9 for the mussels I enjoyed up to £22 for a steak, it’s something of a steal.
We dined as guests of The Wigmore but all opinions in this review are editorially given.
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1c Portland Place,
London, GB W1B 1JA