OXO Tower Brasserie, SE1

Oxo Tower Brasserie 300x200 OXO Tower Brasserie, SE1As the restaurant to provide me with one of my earliest proper fine dining experiences, a return to it the best part of 15 years later was filled both with excitement and intrigue.  All those years ago, back when the country was rather more flush with cash, our meal took place in the buzzing main Restaurant area where the zeitgeist dictated that dishes should be comprised of fancy foams and cute cuts of meat that left you both in awe and also a little hungry after your meal!

How things have changed.  This time the scene of my meal was the less formal Brasserie on a Friday afternoon.  Somewhat unexpectedly, but in retrospect entirely in keeping with the tone of people’s current finances and eating habits, there wasn’t a spare seat to be seen in the spacious Brasserie whilst the adjacent Restaurant looked like a forgotten relative in comparison.

Given the OXO’s stunning views across the Thames and central London, its popularity isn’t necessarily a surprise.  However, it still has to back up the style with substance and it’s with the cooking that the Brasserie really shows why the venue has stood the test of time.  Credit here has to go to Head chef Deon Jansen, who has created a quintessentially modern brasserie menu with a diverse range of dishes handpicked from around the globe.

Starters included lovely seasonal Grilled English asparagus with warm duck egg, truffle Pecorino, vanilla oil & toasted brioche and a slightly quirky but delicious Fried soft shell crab with watermelon coconut salad, black bean dressing & chilli jam.   Mains included what is quite possibly the piggiest dish in town – a monstrous but stunningly cooked Rare breed pork chop with copious morsels of black pudding hash, celeriac remoulade, watercress & porcini mushroom sauce; simple, tasty and devastatingly filling. The only slight blot was the Sea bass with saffron potato purée, shaved fennel, romesco & air dried prosciutto; whilst beautifully cooked, this dish had far too much going on, ultimately drowning out the delicate fish with a melange of conflicting flavours.  Resuming to regular service, desserts were a winner too, including a truly indulgent Bitter chocolate tart with milk chocolate honey nougatine parfait & buttered pears.

However, it’s not just the Brasserie that is worth checking out.  Should summer ever decide to make an appearance, there aren’t too many better places in London to watch the world go by than the OXO Tower Bar, particularly if you step out onto the terrace.  With a selection of well-made classic and individual cocktails to choose from as well as tempting snacks to nibble on, it’s just as suited for a pre/post prandial drink as it is for a place to wind into the weekend.

Food: 4/5
Venue: 4/5
Value: 3/5

Food type: International brasserie
Meal for two (excluding drinks): £85
Wine: £6.50
Cocktails: £12.50

OXO Tower Brasserie
OXO Tower Wharf
Barge House Street
South Bank
Tel: 020 7803 3888