The Oxo Tower Menus
There are two restaurants at the OXO
Tower, the Brasserie and the Restaurant.
We visited the Brasserie in February
our review follows.
The Oxo Tower Brasserie
The opening last September of the OXO
Tower restaurants and bar was one the
highlights of 1996, which was a bumper
year for new London restaurants. Building
on the enormous success of The Fifth
Floor Restaurant, the Knightsbridge
department store Harvey Nichols discovered
and converted this art deco warehouse
space on the South Bank of the Thames
near to Blackfriars Bridge to an ultra-modern
yet elegant dining room. The views are
spectacular: there's a panorama ranging
from the City to the East - with one
of the Capital's best views of St Pauls
Cathedral - to the Strand and Charing
Cross to the West. I can't wait for the
summer to come so that I
can eat al fresco on the terrace.
The Brasserie is a 135 seater dining space with an open plan kitchen. The
brigade is under the direction of Cait Mitchelhill who was previously
Head Chef at the Fifth Floor Cafe at Harvey Nichols. There she made her mark,
creating diverse menus with a backbone of Mediterranean cooking. Cait was born
and bred in Australia and her outlook on food reflects the many and varied
influences found there. She was lucky enough to work for some of the most exciting
and innovative Australian chefs such as Anders Ousback at Taylor Square and
for Neil Perry at the acclaimed Rockpool Restuarant.
The Brasserie Menu is relatively simple, but certainly
not lacking sophistication. To start with we tried the Japanese Tuna salad
consisting of very finely sliced raw tuna of the freshest and finest. It came
in a nutty soy dressing that was delicate enough to bring out the flavour of
the fish; it was a lovely way to begin a meal - I like to slide in slowly and
almost imperceptibly. Tiger prawns and grilled squid with red peppers was a
more robust dish, the squid was the best I've had for ages. The texture was
perfect, not at all rubbery, and the flavour was ecstatic, the salsa verde
dressing well judged, complementing and not overwhelming the fish. So often
such dressings are there to disguise the lack of real piscine flavour.
For our main courses we had grilled hake, which had substance and floated
elegantly in a vivid saffron butter sauce with clams and mussels to enliven
it even further. The taste of saffron was so particlar and intense that it
reminded me how disappointed I was to have been fooled when I bought a large
packet of the alleged stamens when we went down the Nile last month!
I particularly enjoyed the leg of a large and tender rabbit which was stuffed
with spicy aubergine and other bits and pieces in a gorgeously rich tomato
sauce with cannellini beans. We didn't really need extra vegetables, but it
would have been nice to have had just a very few. Perhaps they could do a tasting
selection that you could pick at discreetly - I just hate leaving things.
The tables are fairly close together and we struck up a lively conversation
with our neighbours who were out celebrating a birthday. They were a little
disappointed not to have been seated at a window table, but were clearly not
prepared to do a Michael Winner and make a fuss, even though it turned out
that the wife was a well known TV director. But they soon got enthusiastic
over their dinner, especially the roast rump of lamb which had a very rich
sauce with braised vegetables. I also admired the Bury Black Pudding, piled
up high on bubble and squeak and topped with a poached egg and mustard hollandaise
like eggs benedict gone mad!
For dessert we had plum tart with caraway sauce and almond roulade with apricot
in quite a spirity Amaretto. The atmosphere on a Sunday night was pretty bubbly,
enhanced by live jazz from a piano sax duo who were playing in the cool blue
light of the bar at the side of the Brasserie. We peeked in at
The Restaurant on ourway out. The decor is similarly modern
with ocean liner stylingand the view of St Paul's seemed even more stunning.
The furniture is rather more comfortable and the white cloths and napery makethe
ambience rather more subdued and relaxing.
The OXO Tower has shaken down now and looks set for a verysuccessful time
ahead as we move towards spring and thewonderful and unique position works
its magic. The service isfairly slick except for one or two youngsters who
looked a bitlost. This was in marked contrast to the kitchen brigade who, although
it was Cait's night off, looked as sharp as mustard.It's quite good from my
point of view to go along when the bossisn't there. The place should not fall
apart. I am happy toreport that the cooking was assured and the presentation
wasexpert without being fussy. The wine list is neat
and well chosen, but we were disappointed by the lack of both the St Hallett
Gamekeepers Reserve and also the Chianti Montellori. There's a fairly steep
hike in prices, from 11.95 to just under in twenty quid in only four moves.
But we enjoyed a bottle of Bourgeuil, that very dry red from the Loire Valley,
The OXO Tower Restaurant and Brasserie
Barge House Street, South Bank
London SE1 9PH
Tel: 020 7803 3888
Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.