Not to panic, but it is 40 days to Christmas and the last two months of the year! This is prime time for many of us in London to start planning end-of-year catch ups, family meet ups and office dinner parties. For food lovers, this is the time when furious research begins on restaurants that offer a festive Christmas menu.
To help get me into the holiday spirit early, I was kindly invited by The Kitchen, which is part of Hilton Tower Bridge, to preview their Christmas Menu.
You cannot fault the hotel’s location, which is seconds from London Bridge station. The restaurant itself is quite spacious and versatile. There is a separate bar and lounge area at the entrance if you are only after a few drinks or a quick bite, while the main restaurant space is laid out in various configurations of tables and chairs to suit diverse group sizes. The restaurant is quite large but can also be cleverly divided into smaller rooms for more intimate private gatherings.
We were welcomed by the team with a festive cocktail called Cynar Spritz made of Cynar, the artichoke-based liqueur from Italy.
Executive Chef Alex Conrad kindly put together a special spread of nibbles to get us into celebration mode.
We tucked into some party favourites such as:
Artisan Sliced bread with cold pressed Olive Oil
Chicken Tikka Bites with Mango
Havana Club Rum Flaming Chorizo
Salt and Pepper Crispy Squid
All the nibbles were delightful but the standout for me was the chorizo, which was different to the usual staples and had a distinctive flavour that went well with the drinks.
Some of the exclusive and seasonal festive dishes that you can expect to find on the Christmas menu are:
Roasted Turkey Breast Rouillard | Roasted Midland New Potatoes, Pigs in Blankets, Honey Glazed Chantenay Carrots, Brussels Sprouts with Turkey Glaze
Crispy Skin Sea Bass | Braised Red Cabbage, Crushed Potatoes, Red Wine Reduction and Chestnut Crumble
Artichoke and Aubergine Salad | Toasted Almonds, Pickled Peppers in a Vinegar Caramel Dressing
Hot Smoked Salmon | Lemonade Sour Cream, Red Onion Rings, Baby Cress Salad and Horseradish Jelly
Roast Pumpkin and Ginger Soup | Pumpkin Seed and Garlic Croutons
Coconut and Raspberry Mousse with Chocolate Crumble
From the dishes I sampled, the soup was tasty, warming and soothing but I didn’t feel it offered anything spectacularly different. The turkey main had all the festive trimmings, but unfortunately the meat was dry and the dish could have definitely done with some more gravy. The vegetables were delightfully cooked and seasoned very well. The top pick for me was the mousse; it was creamy yet light, beautifully plated with some popping candy added for extra pleasure. We finished off with some mince pies and marzipan fruits.
My experience with hotel restaurants is that the staff can be a bit pretentious and indifferent but it was not the case here. The staff who hosted us were genuinely warm and lovely, with a sense of humour thrown in for good measure!
The Christmas Menu comes at £55 per person for three courses and for a minimum of 30 guests. Given what we sampled, I think the price is on the higher side; if a welcome cocktail or a glass of fizz were to be included, it would make it slightly better value for money. Things can be improved with the menu itself. Perhaps some more adventurous choices can be offered that push the boundaries a bit as it didn’t feel glorious enough. All of these are things that can be easily rectified.
Given the number of businesses surrounding London Bridge and neighbouring areas, this is a good option for private parties and corporate celebrations.
Location : Hilton London Tower Bridge, 5 More London Riverside, Tooley St, London
N.B. I was a guest of The Kitchen, Hilton London Tower Bridge on behalf of Love London Pop Ups