Whilst many moan about the reluctance of spring and summer to arrive as the last few weeks have been cold and wet, I personally cannot believe how quick 2012 is flying by. Life is full on at the moment with my new sales role at work by day and my Stampin’ Up business by night so when I was recently invited to go out for dinner I couldn’t resist – perfect chance to have a night off to relax and spend some quality time with hubs.
The venue for my night off was to be the newest addition to the Birmingham hotel scene, Hotel La-Tour, situated right in the heart of the city centre near to the Bullring shopping centre. On arrival it was clear to see the hotel has been designed with the utmost style and sophistication. It was modern but very classic too. After making our way up a very stylish staircase we arrived at the bar where we were greeted warmly by the restaurant manager, Daniel. Whilst we perused the menu for the Aalto Restaurant and the wine list helpfully categorised on an Ipad, we were served with one of their signature cocktails – the 1889, named after the year Birmingham was granted city status.
It was a fruity,light and refreshing drink made with gin, apple, elderflower, ginger and lime and was a perfect start to the evening by not only getting your taste buds going but also leaving your palate cleansed. We also had a pre dinner nibble of lemon and chilli infused popcorn that was strangely addictive.
The menu exemplifies the modern twist on classics that is the ethos of the hotel. It was inspired by michelin star chef Marcus Wareing who has worked closely with the team at Hotel La Tour and head chef Alex Penhaligon to develop the dishes using many local ingredients. There were also a couple of specials to choose from too, so making a decision did take a while as it was all so so tempting.
Once we ordered we were taken through to the restaurant to our table, where we were positioned right behind the chef’s table with views into the open kitchen, allowing us to see our dishes being created by the kitchen.
After choosing our dishes, the lovely Daniel, came over to discuss wine choices. Daniel’s knowledge of the wines was impressive so we asked him to choose one for each of us that would complement the foods we had chosen. I was served with the Bodega Castro Martin Albarino which was a lovely surprise. I love this type of wine which I discovered on my many work trips to Galicia and it is not one you get in many establishments. Mr CYV was served the Frappato Nerello Mascalese, which was also a great choice as we don’t often choose Italian wines. Daniel explained how he had chosen wines that would work with both of the starters and mains we had chosen and what they would deliver to complement the food.
I opted for the Harrogate Loaf, terrine of veal, bacon, parsely and caper salad which was a beautifully dense meatloaf, studded with pistachio for added crunch and texture. The terrine was wrapped in bacon which gave a great salty edge to the loaf. Some croutons on the side The parsley and caper salad it was served with was a perfect accompaniment with the fresh flavours cutting through the meatiness.
Mr CYV opted for the Mulligatawny, haddock, curry spice, lentils which was a velvety smooth soup which was packed with beautifully cooked haddock and the lentils gave their usual bite to give some texture to the dish. It was perfectly spiced with such depth of flavour and enough spicy heat to give a warmth to the dish.
For mains I chose the Cornish sea bass, creamed leek, mussels, grain mustard. The fish was cooked to perfection with a crispy skin which I love and the sauce was rich and unctuous. I would never have dared to pair mustard with fish but this worked brilliantly.
Mr CYV opted for one of the specials Lamb Belly, green beans and peas, breaded sweetbread and red wine jus which was also cooked perfectly. the slow cooked belly melted in the mouth whilst the sweetbread was little nugget of delight and the jus brought the whole dish together.
We were amazed not only with the quality of the food but also how the chosen wines matched both courses perfectly.
When it came to dessert I was spoilt for choice but in the end decided on Jaffa cake pudding, warm chocolate, orange cake crumb, cream, which was something devised by Marcus Wareing. Now I expected a chocolate orange pudding but was so suprised to find it actually it tasted like those little biscuits you can buy. It was delicious, the sponge pudding was light whilst the chocolate sauce was rich and smooth.
Mr CYV opted for the savoury choice of British cheese selection, walnut crisps, pickle and was very happy with the selection of cheeses – a goats cheese from Oxford, stilton blue and an apple smoked cheese.
With our desserts Daniel yet again came to our aid and selected suitable wine to go with them. For my chocolate dessert the Nectar Jerez Pedro Jimenez sherry was perfect and hubs was given the Rivesaltes Ambre dessert wine to complement the cheese selection. Yet again they matched perfectly.
As we retired back to the bar with a coffee we couldn’t help but plan a return visit. I think we will definitely come back to try out the hotel itself too. The food was some of the best I have eaten and certainly deserves a spot in the top restaurants in Birmingham.
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I received the food and drink courtesy of the Hotel la Tour I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.