Friday, December 30, 2011

Oxo Tower Restaurant

Situated on London's South Bank rising over the River Thames, the Oxo Tower Restaurant is a luxe dining destination where modern British and Mediterranean cuisine are met with sparkling vistas of the city. The swank 8th floor bar and dining room illuminated in blue and red hues is polished in white linens and ultra modern leather chairs. The contrast of warm lighting blanketing from the shuttered ceilings onto an art deco influenced space is striking, matched by the stunning panorama out the gaping angular floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows. Most notably St. Pauls Cathedral stands out in the distance and the River Thames reflections twinkle in the foreground.
Tricia had dined here back in 2008 and had a feeling another fantastic experience was store if we returned. She didn't steer us wrong! We were greeted warmly by maitre'd as we stepped in off the elevators, she took our coats and umbrellas and showed us a seat at the bar area.
Instantly charmed by the bold elegance and potted poinsettias, I snapped a few photos and shortly after we were shown our table.The cocktails we had just ordered swiftly followed in our footsteps. True to form, the Aperol based sparkling libation caught my eye. Combining my favorite orange bitters with another orange liqueur called Mandarine Napoleon along with crushed peach, passion fruit and a charge of Prosecco the Riveria (£13.50) appeased but at a lofty price point.
Tricia chose the Black Libertine (£9.95) made with crushed fresh blackberry, Drambuie Liquor and lime juice. Forgoing an appetizer since our late lunch (almost an early dinner) of fish and chips kept our appetites at bay, we jumped right into the mains. Apparently, where fish is concerned, I couldn't get enough this trip. (All the photos had a crazy blue tint, I thought the b&w was easier on the eyes in some instances.)
This gorgeous plate of food would be the Cornish Stone Sea Bass, with black risotto, baby squid, sea purslane and lemon oil (£27.50). The presentation instantly wowed, striking an aesthetically pleasing balance that was exciting without overwhelming. Every element was perfectly in its place and the dusting of salts and sea purslane across the white canvas were a thoughtful touch.
Taste wise, the dish far exceeded my expectations, beginning but certainly not ending with the expertly seared piece of Cornish sea bass. The generally mild fish benefited from a simple preparation, where delicately crisp and toasty skin gives way to buttery, lemony, melt-in-your mouth flesh. The other components only further enhanced my adoration. Squeaky clean squid tentacles mingled with strips of nicely sauteed haricot verts over a compact and generous portion of jet-black risotto. I typically come across squid ink in pasta form, but I relished its heightened flavors as it absorbed the tender rice. Building from the briny seafood essence, there's an understated richness, a subtle murky deep sea flavor with a complex mouthfeel that fulfills a high honor of complimenting that beautiful fish.
Tricia ordered the Roast and braised wild duck with goats curd and cinnamon dumpling and coriander caramel (£25.50). Benefiting from a flawless preparation and a unique flavor profile, I really enjoyed the couple bites I had. The coriander caramel seemed risky but somehow worked with the roast bird.
Our interactions with the waitstaff at Oxo Tower were interestingly enough, all over the map. Our first server at the bar was highly engaging and genuine, his bright personable nature was followed up by one-note table service; which was mostly courteous and timely. Towards the end, one server became all too fussy and his presence felt slightly imposing. (Hovering, awkward conversations, unsolicited advice.) And was that just a poor attempt at an upsell or is he genuinely concerned that we only ordered one small dessert to share? (Giving him the benefit of the doubt...) Once we were presented the tiny dessert of Hazelnut parfait with poached pears and lemon verbena (£8) his gesture made a little more sense. Despite the fact that I thought it could have been double the size, it was absolutely lovely. The parfait was ultra creamy, complimented by a crumbly lemon verbena cookie, soft delicately poached pears, a crunchy caramel nougat and plated alongside cute little meringue teardrops. Above all, the menu showcases a wide variety of beautifully prepared dishes, executed precisely and in harmony with exciting ingredients. Detractors claim you pay for the view, can you blame them? Even if you likely are (hello $20 cocktail) the food rises to the occasion. If you're looking to splurge or celebrate a special evening in London, allow Oxo Tower Restaurant to entice you.
Oxo Tower Restaurant, Bar and Brasserie on Urbanspoon

12 comments:

  1. I love the modern vibe and the gorgeous views of this place!

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  2. great review krock! i totally forgot about the awkward encounters with that one waiter towards the end. at least he was trying to throw in some touristy advice as well.

    my duck (which i failed to get a decent picture of) was really fantastic; however, I'm not sure I was loving the caramel topping!

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  3. That parfait sound wonderful! Maybe you did need two. :)

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  4. what a great post. I haven't been to the Oxo Tower in years as we always thought of it as a touristy place when I lived there. I will now have to go back!

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  5. What a beautiful restaurant! The drinks sound especially fabulous.

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  6. definitely a splurge but that view looks amazing and I love the blue hue of the restaurant. Although $20 cocktails?!? I'd have to pre game before hitting this place up.

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  7. what views! and a delicious meal, to boot ;) hope you had a wonderful holiday!!

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  8. What an exquisite meal! Only to be enhanced by an exquisite view. Good for you & Trish to experience this. .....I wonder if I could make that squid ink risotto....

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  9. wow! the ambiance of that place just looks incredible!

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  10. London is SO expensive but a $20 cocktail seems more like Paris than London. Ridiculous! I just paid 13 Euros for a cup of coffee so I feel your pain.

    Walked by so many of the Madrid sights I read about your blog today. Love your blog!!

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  11. Those are some intense views and interiors! That dessert looks fabulous

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