Every foodie has a bucket list; that is an ever growing list of restaurants to visit in London or around the world. My current list has thirty-five restaurants on it…plus I have a separate list of the Michelin star restaurants that I visited years ago and want to revisit for my blog.
Sadly with limitations on time, money and a general concern for my waist line…I can’t tick places off my list very quickly. So when the opportunity arose to visit three restaurants in one day, I grabbed it with both hands.
No I wasn’t eating in a different restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner (though I do like that idea), I was heading out on the London Restaurant Festival Gourmet Odyssey and we would be dining in a different restaurant for each course.
And our mode of transportation between restaurants?
A traditional RouteMaster Bus.
Laurent Perrier champagne was the official partner for the event, so not only would we be trying three fabulous bucket-list restaurants, but we would be sampling a Laurent-Perrier champagne in each one.
The tour was taking us out of our usual West London stomping ground for the opportunity to discover what East London had to offer.
The day kicked off with a champagne reception at the oh-so-hip Ace Hotel on Shoreditch High Street.
With a glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut Non-Vintage in hand, Mr S and I admired the sweeping views of East London from the roof terrace at the Ace.
The Ace is a relative newcomer to Shoreditch and the brand started out in the USA. It’s about as hip as you can get with cool modern furniture and a lobby including retail space, work stations and a photo booth.
And there’s a bike on the wall…
I definitely want to return to the hotel to try out their own restaurant, Hoi Polloi.
After enjoying a few glasses of champers on the terrace, we took our seats on the bus.
As there were 150 people on the tour, we’d been split into three groups. Each group was on a different route and therefore had a different menu as we’d be visiting the restaurants in a different order.
I’ll be honest when I saw our menu I was a little disappointed… the menu choices were not dishes I’d usually choose but a good thing about the tour was it took you out of your comfort zone to go to new places and try different things. Though I was pretty jealous that one of the other groups had tuna ceviche as a starter.
Recently awarded a Michelin star, this was the restaurant I was most excited about visiting.
The Clove Club is inside what used to be Shoreditch Town Hall that has been repurposed as an arts and events space. I’m not going to lie…the dining room isn’t pretty…It kind of reminded me of school, with high-ceilings, long wooden tables and very little in the way of colour.
The first room you enter is the bar, which apparently turns into a lively venue for the evening, serving small plates and cocktails.
The main restaurant has small open kitchen at the back and serves a set five course menu which includes interesting and slightly obscure ingredients.
The champagne that we would be sampling here was Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut.
My favourite champagne as it contains only 60 calories per glass! This is because it is ‘zero dosage’ champagne and no extra sugar is added at the end of the fermentation process. It is an acquired taste but I like the slightly tart flavour of the drink.
The bread was absolutely delicious with a thick crust and soft chewy dough. The accompanying whipped butter melted gloriously on top.
The starter was a chestnut and truffle broth with pheasant dumplings. In my mind broth is watery or stock based so I was surprised to receive a creamy soup. I’ve mentioned before that neither Mr S or I like truffle but I think I’m coming round to it because I really enjoyed the musky taste of the rare ingredient paired the gamey stuffed dumpling. However, the creamy and the heady flavours of truffle and pheasant meant that the concoction was incredibly rich and although I enjoyed it, Mr Silver got to finish mine!
And with our starter done it was back on the bus!
After the pared down simplicity of The Clove Club, the dining room at Merchants Tavern
was far grander.
The venue is actually a converted warehouse and apothecary now furnished with plush leather banquettes that contrasted with the exposed brick work so that the restaurant still retains the industrial-chic look common in Shoreditch.
Our chosen bubbly was Laurent-Perrier Vintage 2004, a gorgeous dry champagne with notes of honey, which is now very rare – though it was be poured pretty freely 🙂
I had high expectations for the food as Merchants Tavern is a joint venture between super chef Angela Hartnett, Neil Borthwick (former chef at The Square) and the founders of the mini-chain, Canteen.
Main course was a loin of venison served with braised red cabbage and silky mashed potato. As I mentioned, not a dish I would usually choose, regular readers will know fish is usually at the top of the list for me. But as expected from chefs with that background, it was an absolute sensation. The meat was perfectly rare, the cabbage not overly sweet and the gravy tied everything together. There was also some fruit on the plate, I believe it was a plum, which worked incredibly well as part of the dish. Again the dish was very rich, and I do think there should have been some communications between the restaurants as we did have two very rich gamey dishes. Though some people would welcome this, I prefer lighter foods and pairing those two dishes together made for a very heavy meal.
Anyway…we had a bus to catch and a dessert to have!
I’d been looking forward to trying 8 Hoxton Square as Mr S and I loved our lunch at it’s sister restaurant, 10 Greek Street
Once again, we were greeted by a very basic dining room with painted brick walls, industrial lighting and a menu written on a blackboard. Though I love my luxury, I also really appreciate these kind of restaurants that aren’t overly stylised, the food is on show here… not the dining room.
Here we were treated to the Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rose…
Despite a love of all things pink…I’m actually not a huge fan of rose as it can be too sweet but the signature Laurent Perrier Rose is actually quite dry and very drinkable.
Sadly we didn’t get a great photo of the dessert, a chocolate and amaretti torte served with vanilla cream. I blame Mr S for this…he was in charge of taking photos and was too eager to dig into his tart. We were slightly nervous about ending on such an indulgent note after such a rich starter and main course but the dessert was surprisingly light and mousse-like with a lovely crisp crunch of the amaretti. It was the perfect way to end a truly wonderful day and when I got home I very happily ticked three restaurants off my bucket list, though I do plan to return to try them properly!
What’s currently top of your bucketlist?
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8 Hoxton Square
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