I’m always looking for new and original experiences around London and there’s something rather special going on at the Caxton Grill at the St Ermin’s Hotel. My friends and fellow bloggers, Laura, Gary and I were invited along to try the Secret Garden Dinner with Champagne Laurent-Perrier at the hotel and when a cold glass of my favourite bubbles was pressed into my hand we knew we were in for a treat.
The St Ermin’s Hotel is just around the corner from where I live in Westminster and I’ve visited several times before to review the restaurant and the afternoon tea. A dramatic white stair case curves into the foyer and at the top is a mezzanine level where my friends and I toasted with a glass of Champagne La Cuvée Brut Laurent-Perrier.
The Champagne La Cuvée Laurent-Perrier is new to the collection and is so incredibly drinkable with soft citrussy aromas and notes of peach and grapefruit. This is seriously a champagne for all seasons and one I could enjoy all day, every day. With our glasses refilled we headed to the lifts and up to the top of the hotel and the beautiful roof garden
Out of the lift and into the open, there really was a whole different world up on the roof. The small space encompasses a fruit orchard, a kitchen garden, a green house and a separate decked platform. With Executive Chef Alexander Boyd as our guide we were taken to learn more about the secrets of this hidden city garden.
The greenhouse is the heart of the garden and Alexander Boyd and his team use hydroponics to cultivate their plants. Put simply this means mineral nutrient solutions are used to feed the plants rather than soil, so it’s ideal for the urban environment.
Much of the produce can be found in the greenhouse including mint, aubergine, pumpkin, basil, numerous tomato varieties, chillies and many more.
The chefs here can truly take the ingredients from ‘seed to saucepan’ and herbs, fruit and vegetables are as fresh and local as can be!
But you never forget that you’re in London with the iconic towers of Houses of Parliament and Westminster cathedral looming in the sky line. The rooftop garden has previously been unavailable to guests but it has been opened up for the first time for the Secret Garden Dinners as part of the Chelsea Fringe Festival and the Chelsea Flower Show.
On the balcony below we could see something even more exciting. Cos not only does St Ermin’s Hotel have a rooftop garden, they also have their own in-house bees!!
Heading downstairs we got a VIP glimpse into the aptly named Bee and Bee Hotel! The bees don’t actually live in hives, instead they live in luxury at the hotel in special hexagonal suites. These bees are fussy about their pollen too and head to London’s parks within a three mile radius in order to collect the very best materials for the most delicious honey. There’s 350,000 bees of different varieties behind the glass and you can take a trip to the third floor to watch them busily go about their business producing honey for cakes and even cocktails. There’s something rather special about knowing the honey that you’re spreading on your toast was made right there in the hotel.
Settling into the private dining room, more glasses of LP were poured as we enjoyed our canapés with fresh ingredients straight from the garden.
Watermelon with delicious cured scallops and a hints of mint.
These beautifully presented beetroot and goat’s cheese bites were in keeping with the organic theme of the night.
But my favourite were these pots of succulent quail with peas, tomato and bacon…cos doesn’t bacon just make everything better?
I’ve heard the story of the origins of Laurent-Perrier before but its fascinating and one I’m always keen to hear again.
The house was founded in 1812 and willed to cellar master Eugene Laurent and Mathilde Emilie Perrier but it wasn’t until 1887 with Laurent’s death that his widow Emilie changed the name to Veuve Laurent-Perrier and spear headed the brand. The word ‘Veuve’ meaning widow, was later dropped but is a word is still recognisable from rival brand Veuve Cliquot. With war disrupting the success of the brand, the house was sold to Marie-Louise Lanson de Nonancourt in 1939 who invested everything that she had in the the company. The dedication of her family meant that Laurent-Perrier became one of the largest and most recognised family-owned champagne houses and it still remains in the family today!
It’s a champagne that I personally love for many reasons and I’m proud to have a continued relationship with them through my blog.
The starter on the four-course Secret Garden tasting menu is is a delicious cured sea bass with oysters and cucumber enhanced with herbs, fromage frais and asparagus. Quite possibly the perfect dish for spring and of course with incredible ingredients fresh from the garden. The dish was perfectly paired with my favourite champagne of the house; known as ‘the great wine without sugar’ Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut is made with zero-dosage. Not only does this mean it’s incredible light and crisp but it has the advantage of being lower in calories! The extra-dry flavour means that it pairs beautifully with oysters and the subtle flavours of this fish dish.
Our next course was beautifully presented! I loved the texture of the confit salmon and langoustine and once again fresh garden ingredients; courgette with tomato water dressing and beetroot were the accompaniments. This time a glass of Laurent-Perrier Vintage 2006 was the pairing. The house is incredibly selective about vintages and chooses only the very finest years so the notes of the wine are just gorgeous! Hints of honey, peach and plum mean this delicious wine is just great with salmon.
One thing I’ve learnt since working with Laurent-Perrier is that there really is no rules! I get on so well with the team there as they firmly believe champagne is for any occasion and pairings can work with any food, whether that’s bubbly with fish and chips or lobster and caviar. With that in mind pairing Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé with rack of lamb may not be the first thing to come to mind but actually the strawberry and red currant notes just worked so well with the red meat. To be fair, I love Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé and I think I could pair it with just about anything!
The dessert pretty much read like a catalogue of my favourite things chocolate, strawberry and champagne! Which turned out to be a dark chocolate shell filled with strawberry mousse, champagne and lychee foam. It was served with Laurent-Perrier Demi Sec which is actually a great alternative to dessert wine. Though it is the sweetest of the wines that we tried, I personally don’t find it too sugary and it’s much more palatable for me especially when paired with a more tart dessert.
The Secret Garden Dinner with Laurent-Perrier champagne at St Ermin’s Hotel was such a fun and unique things to do and with generous glasses of champagne poured it’s rather excellent value too. These limited edition dinners are available 20th May, 27th May, 3rd June, 10th June 2017 with sittings available to book at 6pm or 7pm. £85pp or £150pp with expertly paired Laurent-Perrier Champagne
St Ermin’s Hotel
2 Caxton Street
We were guests of Champagne Laurent-Perrier for this press event.