Whilst most people were curing their hangovers from London Cocktail Week or indulging in sweet treats for National Chocolate Week, a select few city bloggers were invited to enjoy a different foodie celebration at one of London’s top restaurants. The 7th – 14th October marks National Seafood Week, an annual campaign to encourage the UK to eat more fish, highlighting Great Britain’s quality produce and restaurant offerings.
At the top of the luxury South Place Hotel in Liverpool Street, I joined Gary from The Foodaholic and Em from Catch52 for an exquisite dinner at Michelin-starred Angler, one of the city’s most renowned restaurants for quality seafood. Located on the 7th floor, we met on the Angler terrace, a hidden gem among the bustling city with spectacular views that were enjoyed from the cosy heated space. Floor to ceiling windows lined with olive trees and lavender borders gave the feeling of an open rooftop bar without the Autumn chill.
Many glasses of champagne were enjoyed whilst we caught up on our latest adventures in this beautiful space. It truly felt like a secretive spot looking out as the world went on, somewhere to enjoy a drink any time of the year.
A little while later we took our seats in the restaurant. The main dining room is effortlessly elegant. A mirrored design, created by sculptors Grace and Webb, sparkles across the ceiling whilst slanted wide windows look out across the City of London.
Thankfully, rather than having to choose from the consistently delicious looking menu, we were invited to try a bespoke list of dishes created by the executive chef, Gary Foulkes. With over 12 years of experience, Gary has worked with some of the UK’s top chefs including Richard Neat and Gary Rhodes, before becoming head chef at The Square in Mayfair. He came to Angler in April 2016, focusing on sustainable British seafood and creating beautiful, exquisite plates with the best local produce.
Fresh warm bread was served in a lovely wooden box, partnered with creamy whipped butter mixed with a sprinkle of seaweed. But the surprise bites that came next truly set the scene for the evening.
A melt in the mouth rabbit kromeski with smokey anchovy and seaweed caught all of our attention. We had chosen to be surprised throughout the night, not finding out the ingredients of our dishes until the very end. It was beautifully meaty yet salty, and definitely had us racking our brains as to what it could be! If you had told me that there was anchovy inside beforehand, I think I would have subconsciously enjoyed it less, surprises are definitely the best way to dine!
Next came an individual slate of delicate finger sized crackers. The first, on an airy bonito cracker, came seabass tartar with white miso. It’s neighbour, a prawn and squid crisp topped with oak smoked cods roe and espelette pepper. Both were divine, two very different yet equally true tastes of the ocean.
Our starter was perhaps one of the most creatively served plates I’ve seen, a true feast for the eyes. A layer of cucumber scented jelly sat below a constructed pile of langoustine, crab and oyster cream, topped with a generous spoonful of caviar. It was the freshest dish of the night, paired with a Vinho Verde Arinto from Quinta do Homem in Portugal.
Shortly after came a warm, comforting plate of roast octopus, linzer potatoes, taramasalata and salsa verde. Although not quite as pretty as the starter, this dish was most definitely my favourite. The roast octopus was meaty and flavoursome, combined with perfectly cooked spuds and herbs. Although a small dish, it was faultless in my eyes. The plate was served with a glass of Pinot Gris “le Coq”, Domaine Leon Boesch, Alsace, France.
Our last savoury dish was a bowl of steamed Cornish turbot, bonito dashi and coastal herbs.
The fish was beautifully cooked yet I felt that the overall dish could have benefited from an additional ingredient or side of something with a little more robust texture. Maybe it’s just me but I like a hearty substance to my food!
Seafood is classically paired with a variety of white wines, yet for our main we were poured a glass of Scali Sirkey Pinotage from Paarl, South Africa, a beautiful light red.
Our first taste of something sweet was beautiful plate of English apple, yoghurt, granola and hyssop. The dramatic sugar shards made for an impactful presentation and the mixture of crunch and silky smooth yoghurt was delicious. I wouldn’t have chosen it as an evening dessert, as for me granola is a morning treat, yet the simplicity of the ingredients made for a faultless dish.
It was served with a glass of Moscato d’Asti (Alessandra Bera) from the Piemonte region in Italy. I’m not a huge fan of sweet wines yet this was undeniably delicious and complimented the dish well.
We were then surprised with one last dish, a second dessert that looked much more up my street! Three pretty tartlets filled with something chocolatey were placed before us. As I took my first bite, I could taste something horribly familiar – banana – my one food hatred! Thankfully the flavour of my enemy fruit was constrained to small jelly cubes, so I could enjoy the rest of the chocolate, hazelnut and salted caramel filling, which alone was beautiful. Our last wine for the evening was an Umathum Beerenausele, a sweet blend of Chardonnay and Scheurebe.
The evening came to a close with an individual slate of two petit fours, created by Paul A Young in celebration of National Chocolate Week. One a smooth truffle and the other, a hard shell that burst with silky salted caramel, a firm favourite among us.
It’s not hard to see why Angler snapped up Gary Foulkes for his creative use of fresh ingredients. The quality of the produce and sustainable sourced fish make for many seafood dishes cooked to perfection. As a hotel located Michelin-starred restaurant, its expected for dishes to be slightly pricey however we were all in agreement that the set lunch menu is exceptionally reasonable at only £35 for a 3 course meal or £49 for 6. Personally I wouldn’t hesitate to come back to sample more of Gary’s creations – particularly the irresistible sounding yellow fin tuna tartare.
Our evening at Angler was complimentary but as always all views are my own.