For the last eight years, I travel to London and use it as base to jet off to some other part of Europe or to New York. Its a time honoured tradition for me.
In that time, things have changed in London, my choice of hotels, restaurants have opened and closed, my love of afternoon tea has faded, my love of old school London such as the Rivoli Bar and Fortnum & Mason have made way for hip places such as Sketch, E&O and the Selfridges but one thing has remained a fixture in my diary and that is the Bar at Claridges Hotel.
Today I am here to meet-up with someone and I am late (thanks to my jet lag resulting in what I thought was a well-timed nap running over). I eventually make it there (slightly late) and apologise to my dining companion. She is understanding and we make our way into the Bar and find a little corner, settle in and recline in the beautiful plush red leather sofas perusing the menu for drink options.
We start with cocktails. My dining companion chose the Sloe Passion – Plymouth Sloe gin, and Tanqueray gin blended with fresh passionfruit, pineapple and lemon juice. I chose the Gin Lane – freshly crushed ginger, blended with Tanqueray, apple liqueur and lemon juice, topped with lemonade.
The Gin Lane was lovely, with the fresh bite of the ginger interacting with the botanical notes of the gin, while the fruit of the apple and zest of the lemon provided the perfect flavour offset for a very refreshing but “wake-me-up” kinda drink (I really needed it).
I pretty much always have The Square Meal (A selection of beautiful fusion tapas). In fact it made my best food guide last year (check out the guide here). It changes always, so here is what’s on the list.
Asparagus Barquette, Burnt Butter Cream, Nuts and Seeds
Cornets of Tuna, Avocado and Wasabi
Confit Duck rolls and Orange pickled Ginger Drip
Grilled Squid, Parsley, Garlic & Almond Puree and Chilled Grapes
The tuna cornets where their usual beautiful selves. The soft jelly like raw tuna mixes with the sting of the wasabi on crumbly sweet ice-cream cones. The ultimate ying and yang of sweet / savoury and succulent / crumbly taste and texture combinations.
The soft salty confit duck is provided the perfect contrast of textures with the crispy coating of the roll. The gamey duck meat also mixes perfectly with the sweetness of the orange in the sauce while the pickled ginger provides late bite on the tongue to round out the dish.
The squid is done well, with the garlic and almond puree providing additional flavour and texture with and the parsley doing its usual job in the asthetics department. They are placed in little spoons for ease of eating and maintaining conversations.
We also order the Lamb Wellington.
Its a succulent juicy lamb fillet is perfectly encased in flaky crumbly buttery pastry. Its a classic, with the juices of the lamb and the buttery pastry providing a wonderful taste sensation. It is such a traditional comfort food which makes it perfect for a lovely Sunday afternoon.
We then both decide to opt for a glass of the Spanish Bobal ‘La Malkerida’ Utiel-Requena (2012).
It is such a fragrant, soft and silky wine with mild floral aromas. It is medium bodied with full red fruit flavours and light hints of pepper on the first taste on the palate. A very drinkable wine to round out the evening. Claridges is always the source of fun, fine food and beautiful drinks. Its definitely staying as a fixture of my travels!