Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Olsen Hotel's "Spring at Spoonbill" Dinner

View from The Olsen Hotel
How lovely is that view? This picture was taken from the Penthouse Suite of the Olsen Hotel, where I was invited to celebrate the launch of the new Spring Menu at their in-house restaurant, Spoonbill.

We started with drinks in the Penthouse Suite, before moving downstairs to the restaurant for dinner.
Champagne in the penthouse suite
When I go out on weeknights, I make a point of driving so that I don't overdo it and regret it the next day, and of course I immediately regretted my responsible decision when I saw that Pommery was on offer - it's one of my favourites, and I'd happily drink it all night - so I made sure I really appreciated and enjoyed the one glass I had, hehe. (As all the advertisements say these days: drink responsibly!!) On an unrelated note, apparently that hot tub balcony is warm and ready to go All The Time - I was totally tempted to dive in, but there was dinner to get to.

The private dining room in Spoonbill had been beautifully decorated in brightly coloured flowers. Of course, I'm totally stealing the idea for my next dinner party - so pretty!
Pretty flowers

Springtime table

Dorky of me, I know, but I was super-thrilled that my dress not only fit in with the Springtime theme, but also quite literally matched the table settings!
My lap, my place setting

My place setting

Bread
We were treated to an eight-course meal from the new spring menu - for the purpose of the multi-course menu, I think servings were a little smaller than what you'd get if you ordered the items separately at the restaurant, so I won't include prices in the captions. (The Spoonbill menu is available online if you'd like to check it out!)

TEMPURA SOFT SHELL CRAB - Wombok, Thai basil, yuzu mayonnaise
The soft shell crab was nice and fresh, with a light crisp batter - a good start to the evening.

SEARED DUCK BREAST - Soft polenta, forest mushrooms, asparagus
I'm not ordinarily a huge fan of polenta, but I really liked this one as it was so smooth and creamy - I assume that the secret is lots of butter! The duck was on the very rare side (the way I like it), and the skin had a pleasing crunch to it. Combined with some deeply savoury tones from the jus and the forest mushrooms, I really enjoyed this dish.

CARAMELISED ONION AND ROAST TOMATO TARTLET - Soft herb salad
I felt this tart was probably the least successful dish of the night - the pastry was very sweet, almost like shortbread, and when combined with the sweet caramelised onions, it was closer to a mince pie than a savoury tart. (I, of course, adore mince pies so I actually enjoyed this a lot, but if I had ordered this expecting something savoury, I'd have been disappointed).

SALT AND PEPPER CALAMARI - Fennel, blood orange, pine nut salad with citrus dressing
The coating on the calamari was overly salty for me, but it was fresh and tender, and contrasted well with the refreshing, aniseedy salad.

LAMB CUTLETS - White bean skordalia, baby winter vegetables
I love a juicy, plump lamb cutlet! I'd brought my lovely cousin Catherine with me, and as she doesn't eat red meat, the kitchen kindly organised alternative dishes for her. This also meant that I got to taste even more dishes (yay!), and of course, got even more photos for this post.

ROAST BEETROOT CARPACCIO - Feta, rocket, lemon and thyme dressing
This dish was labelled a 'carpaccio' but just felt like a light, tasty salad - the classic combo of beetroot, feta and rocket.

PEPPER CRUSTED VENISON - Whipped feta puree, broad beans, roast beetroot jus
The venison was my favourite meat dish of the night - I adore rare meat, feta and broad beans, so it was a no brainer, really!
Mmm... rare

The non-red meat alternative for this course was a light and refreshing chicken salad. Perfect for the style-conscious crowd around Chapel Street, perhaps?
MARINATED CHICKEN SALAD - Tofu, wombok, Asian greens, pickled carrots
And you'd think that was enough (more than enough!) food for the evening, but then our waiter announced: "And here are the mains". Oof! 
OSSO BUCO - soft polenta
Big bowls of tender osso buco were placed in the middle of the table, sharing-style, served with polenta and some different vegetable sides (see below). The non-red meat option was a well-executed salmon fillet, sat atop crushed potatoes. I snuck a taste of this one and, just quietly, I liked it better than the osso buco! It's not the most creative or unusual dish out there, but it would make a satisfying and tasty meal.
GRILLED SALMON - crushed potatoes, microherbs
Pick of the sides was definitely the asparagus, with runny soft-boiled eggs and crisp salty-sweet jamon.
ASPARAGUS - Crisp jamon, soft boiled egg, fresh herbs
GRILLED PEAR AND ROCKET - Walnut, blue cheese
BROCCOLI - Smoked almonds, sea salt
Desserts were again served sharing style, and represented a range of options from their dessert menu.
DESSERT TASTING PLATTER
Front row: rhubarb and apple crumble, apple jelly with calvados panna cotta, chocolate brownie squares
Ice-creams: burnt honey ice-cream & apple sorbet
I thought the little "beer glass" dessert was super cute! It's apple jelly, topped with a calvados panna cotta. I'm sure there's a way I could recreate that at home... gonna put my thinking cap on and get working!

Across the table the most popular item seemed to be the dense chocolate marquise...
Chocolate marquise
... whilst I particularly liked the honey ice-cream, the apple mille feuille and the crunchy fried lemon fritters. (I liked something deep-fried, what a shock!)
Apple mille feuille

Hot lemon fritters with cinnamon sugar

The aftermath

We had a very enjoyable night at Spoonbill - whilst the food isn't particularly progressive or challenging, it is generally done well. The menu seems to follow a kind of please-all approach, which makes sense considering that Spoonbill is part of a hotel. The wider menu, for example, also includes of-the-moment sliders, tacos and steamed pork buns, with items like the beetroot carpaccio, chicken salad and grilled salmon available to satisfy the health conscious. I don't necessarily consider this to be a bad thing, especially if the food is done well - it's the type of place to which you could take a wide group of friends or family, and be confident that everyone will find something to enjoy.

Sarah and Catherine dined as guests of The Olsen Hotel.

2 comments:

Not Quite Nigella said...

I love that your dress matched-it did so perfectly! A delicious looking meal. I had dinner there a few months ago and it was lovely :)

Ashley said...

What a cheery looking meal! Very spring indeed, all looks quite delicious...