Every once in a while a new hotel with ambition teams up with a new chef on the block with equal amounts of ambition. What results in the case of the Caxton Grill at St Ermin’s, under new Head Chef Hus Vadat, is a dining venue that really showcases the best of British food and Europe’s notable influence on the capital.
From the moment you walk in, you know you are in for something special. The decor is eye catching and yet pays more than a passing nod to the traditional image that comes from the hotels association with Winston Churchill and the spying business. Plenty of sumptuous dark wood and rich colours all blend together to provide an ambience that is stimulating in itself and the recent £30 million refurbishment has created a “look at me” environment that is more than easy on the eye.
Hus Vedat has put together a refreshing offering that features the very best in locally sourced and seasonal beef that includes meats from the farms of top notch butcher The Ginger Pig. They ensure a regular supply of the best British honey with their own hives. They have three hives on the roof of the hotel where the bees are free to forage and reap the benefits of being such close neighbours with St James’ Park.
With a career that has seen exposure to all the best that Europe can offer, including stints at the London Hilton Metropole and The Fat Duck Chef Hus comes to the Caxton Grill armed with considerable experience and with a Josper Grill. New to London this is a cooking method that brings the benefits of the charcoal grill into the commercial kitchen and cooks steaks, fish and chicken at lightning speed for a light and smoky succulence.
The Caxton experience starts at the bar for pre-dinner cocktails. I had to take the Bowler Hat (back to Churchill and his spies again) for its Sipsmiths Gin and honey from the roof content. The sweet honey hits perfectly against the botanical notes of juniper, angelica and liquorice that profile Sipsmiths so well to create a perfect pre-dinner refresher. If you’re not eating, a wine or whiskey flight is available across the bar featuring some carefully selected examples to extend your tastebuds range.
Onto the main event that is dinner itself. I had stuffed gnocchi with walnuts whilst she chose rope grown mussels from Shetland, and fine choices though I say it myself. The gnocchi were light and fluffy with a stuffing that had a tang of gorgonzola all metered well with the roundness of walnut whilst the rope grown mussels where sweet and the Rijoa and chives sauce was buttery and well finished.
For mains we’d both selected a steak – the Josper Grill is such a rare thing that it had to be tried. Both sirloins arrived with an aroma of charcoal perfectly enhanced by the porcini rub applied to each steak as it leaves the grill. Perfectly cooked and rich in Ginger Pig farms flavour it was a stake not to miss. Pimenton Padron, small, unpredictable Spanish chilli peppers, deep fried, made a perfect accompaniment for a perfect meal.
The sumptuous warm prune and whiskey walnut crumble cake delivered on the nose. Rich, dense flavours of prune and whiskey balanced by walnuts (even if a little light on the nuts for my taste whilst her Guinness ice cream with an apricot compote and walnut crisp made up in walnuts for what my dessert lacked.
The Caxton Grill is part of St Ermins Hotel, Westminster and is open 7 days per week.
*The previous was brought to you by St Ermins 4 Star Hotel.