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Sunday, 27 February 2011
One of the more exciting aspects of running a food blog is that I sometimes get invited to restaurants and hotels in and around London, and have the opportunity to meet and chat with their chefs and owners. Such visits may not always reflect what a paying customer might encounter but they do offer a revealing insight into what these businesses are about and what they can offer.
I have cycled past the Andaz Hotel in Liverpool Street for years on my way to work without giving it much thought, possibly because it is a hotel, and I have always thought of hotel restaurants as options purely for tourists or business travellers. This common held view is now being challenged by a number of excellent hotel restaurants, such as Bar Boulud (Mandarin Oriental), Bistrot Bruno Loubert (Zetter Hotel), and The Petersham Hotel Restaurant to name just a few. The 1901 Restaurant at The Andaz Hotel is my latest find.
The Andaz Hotels are the boutique arm of the giant Hyatt Group. The London branch occupies the premises of the former Great Eastern Hotel, adjacent to Liverpool Street Station. Arriving 15 minutes early, I had some time as I waited in the lobby to soak up the atmosphere, people watch and see how the staff went about their business. With no formal reception area, the same member of staff would greet, check in, and take guests to their rooms. It felt like a much more personal experience than is usual in hotels of this size.
To start, I was given a tour of the hotel, shown a few rooms and some of the other amenities. The rooms were modern and elegant, mostly decorated in sober white, black, and red colours, with dark wood and leather. The biggest pull for me however was to learn that the hotel had a series of restaurants and bars, through most of which we would pass during the evening!
After the quick tour, The Champagne Bar was our first stop. Here we had some fine Perrier Jouet Champagne, and a selection of scrumptious sushi and sashimi platters specially made by the hotel's Miyako Restaurant. I seldom have the pleasure of drinking Champagne together with Sushi, but felt the combination worked extremely well. The fine biscuit and brioche aromas of the Champagne were the perfect accompaniment to the fish and sweet sushi rice.
The sashimi platters had some ultra-fresh and creamy pieces of salmon, seabass, tuna, prawn and mackerel @ £17.00. We also had California, Prawn Tempura, and Salmon and Avocado inside-out rolls all priced @ £7.
Our next stop was Catch - the seafood restaurant.
Here, we had a delicious starter of South Devon Crab Cake and Consommé @£10, followed by Steamed Norwegian Cod @ £22. These were cooked by Head Chef Martin Scholz, who came out to greet us.
The food was beautifully matched with a 2008 Margaret River Viognier, (Stella Bella, Western Australia), and a 2008 Chablis Premier Cru Montmain from Louis Michel et Fils. These were excellent examples of their type, expressing the fruit and terriors characteristics of these grapes and regions.
To finish, we headed for the hotel's fine dining option, the 1901 Restaurant. Here, we had a course of cheese and wine tasting (starts from £45 per person).
Of the many fine wines we had for this course, some of the more outstanding were in my opinion the Ma Mas Amiel Prestige, 15 Ans d'Age, and a 2008 Toscano Rosso IGT "Tuttobene" from Tenimenti Angelini.
The dessert was an exquisite mille-feuille with pear, red currants and spun sugar, served with an excellent 2008 Coteaux du Layon, from Domaine Phillippe Delesvaux at Saint-Aubin.
The two other locations which I had the chance to visit were the George Pub, traditionally English with oak panelling and a fine selection of ales, and the Eastway brasserie where diners can have a casual bite to eat.
I was pleased to have been invited to the Andaz Hotel, and to discover what a beautiful place it is, and explore its range of restaurants and bars. I would not hesitate in recommending it to family or friends who want to stay in the area. Its proximity to Brick Lane, Hoxton, Columbia Road and Spitalfields makes it an interesting alternative for visitors wanting something beyond the West End experience.
Cost: The London Foodie was a guest of the Andaz Hotel Liverpool Street. The hotel has 5 restaurants/bars to accommodate a range of budgets, although prices reflect location and the high standard of service, food and wine.
Likes: Great sushi, Champagne bar, and an outstanding wine list. The cheese and wine tasting course will certainly get me back. Personable service, convenient location for a drink after work in the Square Mile, and an alternative to the madness of the West End.
Dislikes: The City corporate types which the hotel may attract might not make for the best environment for a relaxed or romantic evening out.
Verdict: Cool elegant hotel in a central location, with a range of good restaurants and bars. Good quality sushi, Champagne bar and wine list. Highly recommended.