A Bit Smarter Eating Out London

Northbank, The City

May 8, 2015

A lot of people shy away from a tasting menu; some are overwhelmed by the number of courses, a few are put off by the cost. Others might even think it’s only reserved for the food snobs in our midst, but I’d like to convince them otherwise. I am a big fan. Obvious reasons aside, my seemingly insatiable hunger and that horrible plate envy, I like a tasting menu because it not only tells you about the style of the restaurant, but gives the chefs a chance to show off a little. It’s one thing to create a menu for the whole restaurant, it’s another to pull together a handful of dishes that flow cohesively to form the perfect meal.

It also saves me from the mental arithmetic of weighing up the pros and cons of each dish, mixing and matching course options for the ideal combination, then finally factoring in a certain someone’s choices to maximise our exposure to the menu. I know it’s a product of my own making but it can be a little tiresome and quite frankly sometimes (rare but it happens) I don’t mind having the choice made for me. Proof that it’s possible for control freaks to have a day off.

‘But what if there’s stuff on the menu I don’t like?’, I hear you wail from the cheap seats. Well suck it up I say, tasting menus are about eating with an open mind and trusting the chef because if you knew as much as them, wouldn’t you be in the kitchen instead?

With this open mind and a hunger building since my pathetic M&S wrap almost 7 hours earlier, I made my way to Northbank Restaurant and Bar, ravenous and ready to taste what they had to offer. When I arrived, our little dinner party were already at the bar with Prosecco in one hand and the cocktail menu in the other so I wasted no time in ordering one myself- the heather fizz was pretty as a picture and not too sweet- the perfect aperitif before the meal.

Northbank_cocktails

Also tempting were the chocolate martinis which arrived at the table all dark and seductive so it was probably a good thing we were whisked away to our table not long after. Waiters armed with wine and warm little rolls arrived and without any hesitation I ripped into mine and slapped on a hunk of butter, though I was smart enough to save a crust to mop up the remains of the silky smooth carrot soup amuse bouche.

A pretty plate of grilled Cornish mackerel with fennel salad, dill emulsion and tempura anchovy kicked off the menu valiantly, followed by the indulgent foie gras brulee with warm onion sourdough and bone marrow butter. At this stage my I felt comfortable enough with my new friends to forgo the polite knife spreading etiquette and dunk my bread straight into the brulee, I’m one of those direct to the point types.

Northbank_bread_foiegras_mackerel

Smoked Tamar eel with charred cauliflower, smoked almonds and crispy kale arrived next, resulting in some approving umms and ahhs, and quite the discussion on the merits of kale; I’m on the side that finds very little merit in it. The great kale debate was silence by the arrival of the spring Cornish lamb rump and braised shoulder with wild garlic potato terrine, a dish we agreed to be the best of the night. I loved the blushing pink rump and terrine, but my only cry to the kitchen would be… where is the jus? Just a drizzle would have done the trick for me.

Finally, the last of the savoury courses, the Cornish catch of the day which was on this occasion a beautifully crispy-skinned sea trout with asparagus and beetroot. I was a bit surprised to end on a fishy note, but happily surprised none the less.

Northbank_lamb_eel_trout

The well varied cheese platter was brought out and we finally, at the end of the meal, got our only menu choice of the night… the salted caramel brownie with blood orange sorbet or the more interesting sounding ‘cream tea’ souffle? Because I love chocolate that little bit more than tea, I went with the brownie and while the first few bites were nice, it was also sickeningly sweet, saved only by the sharp sorbet. Though really, it was only a minor blip in an otherwise well curated menu.

Northbank_dessert_cheese

In case you hadn’t noticed the numerous Cornish references, the modern British menu served at Northbank is influenced by Cornwall and aims to showcase the produce of the region. The execution from the chefs is refined, well presented, and does justice to the produce they’ve worked so hard to source. Northbank sits prettily, and obviously, on the Northbank of the river, and has amazing views from The Shard to the Millennium Bridge making it the perfect spot for that after work drink and dinner or a lazy weekend meal! 

Northbank_Shard


Thanks to SquareMeal and Northbank for a wonderful meal where the food was delicious and my wine glass was frequently filled, but as always, all opinions are my own! It was also great to meet some fellow foodies- Suze, Laurie and Michelle

Square Meal


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  • I love tasting menus! One of my best meals ever remains Hunan in Pimlico, where you get around 18 courses. It’s lovely to be surprised and not to know what is coming next 🙂 But I definitely fall into the category of those who are wary of price – it’s often difficult to justify spending that amount to myself…

    • Oh goodness- 18 courses?! I’ve heard fabulous things about Hunan, must try it out soon. It does get pricey but I think for a special occasion, it’s a wonderful way to dine!

      • I’ve only ever been there with someone else paying 😉 but yes, for a special occasion it’s absolutely worth it!!

  • This looks like a great spot! The idea of a Cornwall-inspired menu sounds extremely appealing to me – and that cheese board looks out of this world!

    • I’ve only been to Cornwall once but thought it was so beautiful and the seafood was incredible so Northbank’s menu definitely appealed to me too! The cheeses were great but we were too full to take advantage of it- nothing went to waste though… all wrapped up and went home with some of us!

  • Fabulous night and I’m totally dying to try the chocolate martini!

    • I had every intention of having one at the end of the meal with dessert but I should’ve known I would be too full… and it was getting close to midnight- very late for me on a work night!

  • So great to meet you, Connie and I’m not a big kale fan either but I know it’s good for me! Love your shots of the night sky

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    • Thanks Suze- I absolutely adored your photo of the entrance, loved that you could see the reflection in the window!

  • LondonKiwiEmma

    Just YUM!

    • I know right? I couldn’t say no to anything and boy was I stuffed by the end of the night!

  • andreaspassions5

    Ahh I absolutely LOVE Northbank and the addition of that foie gras brulee and salted caramel brownie looks like something I need to be making a revisit for ASAP! 🙂 Lots of love, Andrea xxx
    http://www.andreaspassions.com

    • Honestly the foie gras was delicious- there’s a similar dish at Duck & Waffle if that kinda dish tickles your fancy!

  • Oh my goodness!! This place looks amazing – I’ve never heard of it, and now I so want to go!! Brilliant write up! xxx

    • Thanks Miranda! It was such a pleasant surprise- excellent food & location!

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