Meal: Lunch on Wednesday 24 June
Venue: 1901@Andaz Liverpool Street – the main restaurant in the classy Andaz Hotel – a bit of posh amongst Hoxton cool. Perfect for City boys talking big money deals and people looking to impress their Mum and Dad when they’re in town.
Gekko Spotters: Dan and Tony
Guilty pleasures abound when you head into The City of London these days. Considering the financial meltdown was caused in these parts, maybe it’s not surprising that lunching at the opulent 1901@Andaz feels slightly illicit. Although the guilt would not stop me eating here every day if I had half the chance and half a banker’s wage.
Firstly the setting is pretty spectacular. The Victorians didn’t scrimp and save when they built The Great Eastern Hotel at Liverpool Street which is now occupied by the Andaz Hotel, and the ceiling in 1901 wouldn’t be out of place in a small cathedral. Indeed the hushed and understated atmosphere verges on the reverential.
Thankfully the staff are warm and welcoming, the sommelier offering up his personal bottle of Argentinean Clos de los Siete for our delectation (assuming we left him a glass at the end of course). The crowd is businesslike but not quite the thrusting, champagne-swilling trader clientele I had been expecting. And 1901 is all the better for it, the huge, airy dining room filling with low chatter and some fitting mood music floating in the background.
Starters are perfectly formed and proportioned. My asparagus, poached egg and hollandaise sauce is fresh and tasty and vitamin-fuelled while Tony’s sauce Americaine was deftly matched to his smoked haddock. He rhapsodises about the texture of the haddock being like an egg but I’m not entirely sure what he means other than it’s really nice.
Having been lured into the Special of the Day from the carving trolley as a main, based purely on the impressive-sounding fact that the meat had been hung for 35 days, I was still bowled over by the quality of the beef. Truly the most succulent I’ve tasted in an age and perfectly complimented by a Yorkshire pud the size of Lancashire. Tony’s more adventurous choice of venison and grilled liver is equally impressive.
I still have some space for dessert – a sign of a great lunch in my view – and the baked cheesecake with Beenleigh blue with grilled pears is a triumph. Having been warned that it would be a ‘marmite moment’ –'”you’ll either love it or hate it” – I decide that blue cheese in a cheesecake is not such a crazy idea after all.
As we sip our coffees and the money men start on their next bottle of wine, we reflect on a lunch hour well spent. Maybe I could work in high finance after all…
Verdict: Outrageously tasty and flavoursome food, all for surprisingly good value in a spectacular setting. The lunch of kings.