My dear friend Fiona Maclean of lifestyle magazine London-Unattached asked me to join her on an invite from Lime & Tonic to preview the the Blakes Hotel London restaurant and bar as her guest. Blakes Hotel are planning a gourmet food 5 course tasting menu with matched wines, and as I am always intrigued by food and wine matchings, it was a privilege to accept. So after a day in London, I joined her on a rainy evening, going down the stairs from the hotel into the restaurant.
Blakes was the worlds first luxury boutique hotel, created by hotelier and internationally renowned designer Anouska Hempel. The Hotel undertook a complete refurbishment in 2011 and is now established as totally unique and has been the model for the “fashionable small hotel” in London and cities around the world. We were just visiting the Blakes Hotel London Restaurant and Bar, but it is worth checking out the hotel rooms on the website. Each one is of a unique design, and the pictures of them are amazing.
The restaurant had a definite Bohemian feel to it, crossed with Victorian grace and Japanese nightclub darkness. It managed to be dark enough to be exciting and intimate, yet bright enough to be open and not oppressive. This is more the place to bring your close friends or mistress to rather than your boss.
There was also a live singer/piano player, singing her own mix of songs, in a slow jazz/blues style. They managed to have the volume and repertoire that made for it to be easy listening background music, or something you could watch and enjoy. Most tracks drew a small round of understated claps from people at the bar.
After an intimate drink at the bar, catching up on news, we were given the menu to look at. And the wine list of course. We moved to our table, where a lovely present bread basket was offered, with a beautifully stamped ‘B’ in the butter.
The menu had a good mix of fish and meat dishes, with enough range to please most eaters, all of which is locally sourced where possible, for freshness and season. There was clearly an oriental angle to some of the food in both content, wasabi, and in presentation.
For starters I chose the Salmon Tartare, with avocado and rocoto pepper. It arrived served between bread crisps, which made it a bit fiddly to eat, but the taste was there. The avacodo softened the Salmon a bit too much in my opinion, but the pepper spiced it up nicely, so this was much more than just a salmon medley. In fact I think there may even have been some wasabi in it!
Fiona, who liked the Asian influence with dishes chose the Soft Shell Crab with birds eye chilli, lime, toasted almond and coriander. She said the crab was lovely and the accompaniment of micro coriander really pleasant and aromatic, but found the frothy wasabi dip a little mild, and she would have preferred something spicier. I guess with wasabi its a risk you take.
For the main, I chose the Grilled 65 Day Aged Beef Entrecote. This came with wasabi mousseline, wild mushrooms and truffle. The thick slices of beef were laid out on top of the mousseline, with truffle sauce poured over. The beef tasted even better than it looked, cutting easily but with just the right amount of ‘chew’ to get the most out of it before it was gone. The wasabi added a hint of mustard/horseradish to the background that livened up the mash, but wasn’t really needed to appreciate the meat.
Fiona, feeling like she wanted a lower calorie option, chose the Miso Black Cod, with miso mustard and crispy rice. The cod arrived on a palm leaf bed, and flaked apart into large boneless chunks delicately coasted in miso. She also had a side order of sautéed wild spinach to go with it which is a good companion to white fish at any time.
The wine I chose was a Zaccagnini Pecorino Yamada 2011. Although I wouldn’t normally choose a white to go with meat, this wine had the body and clarity to work with both the Cod and the Beef, as well as compliment the spicier starters. It also has a good flow between courses, so I did not feel the need to change wine when moving from fish to meat.
Still enjoying the wine after the beef, I decide to have a traditional cheese board for dessert. As with everything at Blakes Hotel, it arrived well presented and nicely spaced out on the plate, a side plate of thin toasts and breads being brought as well.
Fiona decided that the chocolate had to be sampled, and so chose the Chocolate. It arrived looking initially like a slightly dry cake, with ice cream next to it, but the aroma of chocolate was absolutely heavenly. Cutting a ‘slice’ of the chocolate ‘cake’ let the melted mass of chocolate stream out – how easily fooled we both were by the initial look. I wanted to try some myself, but Fiona wasn’t sharing! She said it tasted to good.
Overall this was a good meal in lovely surroundings. Very different from the normal meal out, this is a place to treat yourself rather than use as a regular haunt. And its wow factor remains long after you have left the restaurant.
I heard about this place through Lime and Tonic and I could definitely recommend registering with them so that you get to hear about the five course tasting menu when it is available. Or just see what offers are on in the meantime. You won’t regret it.
33 Roland Gardens,
London SW7 3PF