A pleasant stroll from my office in Soho down to the Embankment reminded us of the south, humid with a warm breeze, as we searched for somewhere to wind down following a brace of rude Bulgarians (I'm sure easterbunny will elaborate elsewhere) and while away the couple of hours until our dinner reservations.
Eventually we wound up in Bar Blue, a new cocktail and wine bar built in the reception area of Vinopolis, near London Bridge (in my book at least - although it had been a while since our last Vinopolis visit). The colour scheme is true to its name with deep blue leather couches and stools gathered around the front glass wall.
easterbunny went for a Champaign Classic and I took the opportunity to re-live a little of our fantastic 5th Anniversary experience in Edinburgh and chose a glass of the Pol Roger Brut Reserve - kindly supplied in abundance while we were staying at the Witchery. Whilst the list of cocktails was expansive the classic was not on the menu, however was professionally made without a second thought when we asked. The Pol Roger didn't require much assembly but was fantastic all the same. easterbunny lingered over her drink, and rightly so, and so I decided to go for a second glass... Needless to say we ended up buying the rest of the bottle and chatted and gossiped our way to almost being late for our reservations. :) An excellent meeting spot in that neck of the woods, but perhaps a little impersonal for a whole evening.
Suitably wound down at this point we tottered up the river to the Oxo Tower Restaurant (somewhere we've been dying to eat for some time now, but had never managed to get around to organising). Whilst not towering over the river like some of the other restaurants in the city's high rise office buildings the view is suitably spectacular. After a brief aperitif on the balcony to admire it from all angles we were seated just back from the window, my view stretching out over west London past the Post Office Tower and Centre Point, easterbunny overlooking St. Paul's, flanked by Tower 42 and the gherkin.
The later booking worked very well, letting us experience the transformation of the city as the sun goes down and the starscape of lights which fade in to replace it. Some buildings floodlit to show off the architecture, others just leaking light from their inhabitants; all very beautiful none the less. It all rather reminds me why I love living in London.
The setting, glorious; the company, divine. The food and service had a lot to live up to and, having read some rather scathing reviews on london-eating.co.uk it was assumed it could go either way. I should not have worried. The restaurant provided, and in spades.
Making a selection was a challenge in itself, everything on the menu appetising. In the end easterbunny started with the rather unusual combination of king scallop served on braised oxtail, which met with much approval and a refusal of the usual bite exchange. I went for the pork belly, served with a wonderfully moist black pudding and a lightly flavoured apple sauce (not too sweet, not to sharp). It had a delicate smoky flavour in the skin and the meat itself fell apart and melted in the mouth.
For the main course we both selected the venison, served with crushed sweet potato and bacon and a trio of fruit sauces including spiced plum sauce and a sharp berry of some kind (possibly red current). The meat was on the rarer side of medium rare and was succulent and tender but not excessively gamy and was encrusted densely with coarse black pepper on one side. Having made mention of 'fruit driven' and 'peppery' to the sommelier he suggested what turned out to be a very fine Australian shiraz ( Mitolo Savitar Shiraz 2004 ), lots of fruit but tempered with a herbal edge (eucalyptus, so we were told). Heavenly.
Having snacked on almonds at the Blue Bar earlier we didn't have room for desert, but I could manage to squeeze a delicious glass of Dow's 20 y.o. tawny port into the gaps whilst easterbunny had a calypso coffee and accompanying truffles (which I duly helped her out with).
More evenings should be like this. Memorable enough to inspire me to record them. :)