The restaurant scene in the City has changed radically since Conran (now D&D) restaurants opened Coq d’Argent in 1998. Before then most places would be closed by 9 p.m.. The city gents would scurry off home to the suburbs or to the West End for some action. Coq d’Argent stayed open late, had live music and a postmodernist design aesthetic . D&D’s new City establishment South Place Hotel, reflects the new social geography of London. The cultural centre of gravity has moved eastwards and the hotel reflects this. It has a hip metropolitan New York feel with a sprinkle of Hoxton edge. There are seven bars and two restaurants and up on the top seventh floor sits The Angler.
The interior is cool and understated but with some unusual touches as you would expect from the Conran Design Group. The cooking is similarly clean and precise but Tony Fleming’s cooking has the ability to move the heart of even the most hardened banker.
We started with a glass of house champagne and very soon a Cheese Sable arrived.
It was light and crumbly, flavoured with Montgomery Cheddar and set the scene for an intense and brilliant Cappuccino of Lobster bisque. This unexpected little cup of happiness told of a kitchen that meant business.
Cappuccino of Lobster bisque
We moved on to a glass each of Ailala Treixadura Ribeiro 2011 (£8.75) from Galicia in the northwest of Spain. Treixadura is the up and coming grape of the northwest and this wine is a single varietal only into its second year of production. It had a smoky nose with citrus flavours coming through and was wonderful with our Shellfish Platters (£24). These consisted of Mersey Rock, Colchester Native and Irish Rock oysters, Cherrystone Clams, Langoustines and Dressed Crab. The freshness and quality of the seafood was terrific and it was served with the necessary trimmings:tabasco, lemon, a shallot vinaigrette, a lemon mayonnaise and bread and butter.
For mains I had Roast Turbot, brown shrimp, capers, butter and parsley (£26.50).
Roast Turbot, brown shrimp, capers, butter and parsley
The turbot was perfectly cooked on the bone and was full of flavour, the shrimps giving the dish an additional richness. With my fish I drank a wonderful Cambria Chardonnay from Katherine’s Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, California 2007 (£14) which was full-bodied and elegant with hints of pineapple and vanilla.
Steamed Wild Bass, crushed potato, sauce vierge, herb salad
My dining companion, Fiona from London Unattached
was eating Steamed Wild Bass, crushed potato, sauce vierge, herb salad (£24.50). This would make a perfect dish for spring with the flavour of the bass being enhanced by the steaming and not compromised by pan-frying as so often happens. With her fish she drank a glass of False Bay Wild Yeast Chenin Blanc, Coastal region, 2011 South Africa (£6.25) that tasted of pears and honey.
Black Cabbage (Cavolo Nero) and creamy Potato Mousseline
For sides we had a portion of buttery Black Cabbage (Cavolo Nero) and creamy Potato Mousseline (£3.75 each) which were perfect with the turbot.
Roast figs, yoghurt and honey parfait, pistachio crumble
We shared our desserts-Roast figs, yoghurt and honey parfait, pistachio crumble (£6.50) and Caramel pear trifle, Pedro Ximinez jelly (£7.50).
Caramel pear trifle, Pedro Ximinez jelly
They weren’t oversweetened and were in tune with the restrained elegance of the restaurant, however the glass of 2008 Brumaire, Chateau Bouscasse, Pacherenes du Vic Bilh Moelleux (£11.50 for 100ml) that accompanied them had plenty of tropical fruits and a cream and honey richness.
Pistachio Madeleines and Earl Grey Fudge
We ended the meal with Pistachio Madeleines and Earl Grey Fudge with my peppermint tea.
This was a great meal. Tony Fleming is able to apply his classical technique to top class ingredients in a very comfortable space. Service was charming and both unobtrusive and knowledgeable where necessary-in fact I knew that would be the case when I saw the legendary Wendy Vera working front of house-she is one of the great unsung heroes of the London dining scene of the last …years- and the sommelier made some great wine choices. For serious fish cooking in the City there is nowhere to match The Angler.
The Hedonist was a guest of The Angler.