1901 restaurant at Andaz Liverpool St
40 Liverpool St, London EC2M 7QN
020 7618 5000/andazdining.com
Social concierge service Lime and Tonic sets up unique dining experiences, social brunches, creative date activities, pop-up events, and more for its members and they had asked Fiona from London Unattached and The Hedonist to test out their menu deal for 1901 restaurant at Andaz Liverpool Street hotel. At £29 for three courses plus a glass of Veuve Cliquot champagne it seemed like a steal.
I have some history with the dining room at 1901. The space used to be the ballroom for The Great Eastern Hotel, one of the great Victorian railway hotels dating back to 1884. Sir Terence Conran and his partners bought the building, refurbishing and reopening the hotel in 2000. The restaurant was called Aurora and Received lots of good press including a double-page spread in the Evening Standard from Fay Maschler ). There was a prize-winning bar area in the corridor leading to the dining room presided over by Alessandro Palazzi (now making the best martinis in the world at Duke’s Bar-see our review). I supplied live jazz in the bar which would drift into the restaurant room creating a cool atmosphere for the city boys and girls to kick back to.
Conran and his partners eventually sold the hotel to the Hyatt Group who turned it into one of their Andaz hotels. Andaz was launched as a high-end ‘eco-brand’ but today it seems to be trumpeting its personalised service rather than trying to save the planet.
As part of the rebrand the restaurant was refurbished, pulling out the beautiful 6 metre long pewter bar which now sits proudly down the road in the Galvin brothers’ Galvin La Chapelle and replacing it with a centrepiece floating bar underneath the original stained glass dome. The jazz went too as did the bar seating in the corridor. A glum looking oriental girl stood at the back of the restaurant playing electric violin to an ambient soundtrack. All in all it was too pretentious and the clientele voted with their feet.
But that was a long time ago now. On returning the bare bones of the room are still the same due to the Grade 2 listing. However it has been dressed in an ‘international hotel spiritual/trendy’ style playing down the natural grandeur of the room. If you want to know how to make a classic hotel dining room look contemporary just visit Berners Tavern. This feels more like a spa…
However the young staff are keen and well trained and a glass of Veuve Cliquot goes some way to soothe my aesthetic anxieties.
The menu is minimal which is to be expected at this price point but there is a meat, fish and vegetarian choice for starters and mains and the bread and butter is of good quality.
The kitchen sent us out an amuse of Salmon tartare that tasted as if it had been mildly hot smoked. It was very good and went really well with our deliciously chewy bottle of Vermentino.
Fiona’s starter was a deep-fried Courgette flower stuffed with feta, a tomato tartare, apricots and courgette purée. It was a lovely summer dish that showed signs of a kitchen with technical ability and ambition.
I began with a roulade of Smoked Salmon, goats cheese, compressed cucumber pickled beetroot, carrot and shrimp purée. It was beautifully constructed but the salmon was overpowered by the cheese filling.
A fillet of hake came with saffron potatoes, marinated beetroot, samphire, and curried fish cream. The hake was perfectly cooked and the flavours in this dish were delicately balanced. It was of a quality that would happily sit on the a la carte menu.
Stuffed breast of Chicken came with potato fondant, baby broccoli, grilled spring onion and a black garlic purée. It was a deconstructed roast chicken with a really good sauce, veg and stuffing.
Honey Cake was a satisfying construction bringing together a delicate violet jelly, chantilly cream and sponge.
Vanilla Blancmange came with too substantial a shortbread base for the subtle vanilla cream and strawberry topping but was otherwise delicious.
Petit fours finished off what must be one of the best value dinners for the quality available in London at the moment.
I wish the management at Andaz would allow the room to be what it is-a grand Victorian space-rather than pretending we are living in some faux modern alternative universe. Playing dance music at quite a high volume in a room specifically designed for acoustic music didn’t help either as it was intrusive and had a echoing bottom end. However I was really impressed with the food and service and must give kudos to Lime and Tonic for finding an excellent value high quality dining experience for their members.