Review: The Waldorf Hilton Hotel, London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out Of Office Magazine reviews one of Convent Garden’s grandest and iconic hotels, the Waldorf Hilton Hotel

Turn the clock back to 1908; the Waldorf opened its doors, dining rooms and suites to visitors hoping to capture a piece of the American dream in London, with the latest New Yorker boutique charm.

It wasn’t to be just a hotel, but a place where tourists, passer-byes and locals could stop for dinner, afternoon tea and a glorious place to rest their heads in the height of luxury in the West End.

Three years prior to its opening, with a glitzy champagne reception, theatrical Impresario Edward Sanders decided to build a hotel on the northern rim of Aldwych. He partnered with accountant, Thomas Wild, to raise the sum of £700,000 with the assistance of William Waldorf Astor, who the hotel was named after in gratitude.

Inside, past reception is the Palm Court Lounge. It’s no wonder that’s where scenes from the Titanic film A Night to Remember were filmed, as director Roy Ward Baker thought it perfect for depicting the interior of a ship with its oaken walls.

The history of the place is plentiful. During WWII, The Waldorf placed adverts in the press reassuring visitors that its alloy structure made it safe. One stray bomb missed the hotel but shockwaves shattered the Palm Court roof and tango tea dances were suspended as a result. The restaurant then became a staff dormitory and the hotel’s legendary head waiter slept in a corner every night to keep an eye on it.

Fast forward to 2017, and the hotel, taken over by the Hilton Corporation 13 years ago, still looks as grand as it did back upon its opening. Arriving at dusk, its warm lights shine brightly outside and inside we are greeted by reception and then taken to our executive suite.

The room 

Each executive suite includes a complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea, evening canapés and drinks all served in the executive lounge.

The Edwardian style suites are spacious and well decorated with a comfy king bed and windows that open out onto the bustling streets of London.

The room also featured a Handy smartphone, which gives guests access to unlimited local and international calls, free internet access, promotions and an on-the-go hotel concierge service. This gadget is a great extra for those staying who are unfamiliar with the city.

The restaurant

We visited the Homage Restaurant for our evening meal; we were treated to a set menu of three courses and a glass of champagne each for £29.50. With its high ceilings, chandeliers and gold topped pillars, it’s a special setting – great for a celebratory meal or a treat.

Our highlights were the roasted wood pigeon and seabass for mains, and the chocolate parfait for dessert.

Why choose The Waldorf Hilton Hotel?  Stunning, beautiful and historic, it provides a relaxing stay in central London.

Cost: ££££

Aldwych, London WC2B 4DD, United Kingdom

Website

0207 836 2400

 

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Review: Ibérica, Manchester

Ibérica Spinningfields, Manchester

Out Of Office Magazine visits Ibérica, a Spanish metropolis in Manchester’s Spinningfields

Who doesn’t like tapas? A small selection of tasty plates accompanied by great wine (or cocktails) enables you to try a great variety of dishes. And, if the restaurant is happy to take you on guided tour through their best cuisine – as our fantastic waitress at Ibérica was – it gives you all the more time to enjoy chatting with your guests.

We certainly felt safe in our waitress’ care as she brought us a selection of the restaurants’ top dishes. Our Ibérica journey started modestly with manzanilla olives and toasted bread with tomato washed down with a gin cocktail. The croquettes, mini secreto pork loin burgers, chorizo lollipops and Galician octopus were all delicious. The red berry gazpacho provided a palette cleanse but not much else.

All of us were in agreement that the pluma Iberian pork loin was the main event – the meat had a sweet nuttiness, was delicate and so tender it barely needed chewing. (My guests were carnivores but there are a reasonable number of options for vegetarians too.)

On to dessert and after grazing at a leisurely pace (which is great to combat over eating) we actually felt rather full. So, we opted for a liquid treat in the form of the Happy Ending, which consisted of Amaretto, midori, cream and cinnamon.

Where? Ibérica is centrally located; walking it’s around eight minutes from Salford Central and 16 from Manchester Victoria. The area, Spinningfields, is between Deansgate and the River Irwell, and was developed in the late 2000s – Iberica itself opened in 2015.

One of my guests went to Manchester Metropolitan University and was pleasantly surprised by how “fresh and new” the area looked, and by how much it had changed since she studied there years ago.

Ambience? Ibérica’s decor is in keeping with the crisp feel of its location. Leather seats, shutters, tiles, high ceilings and claret tassels give it a Spanish feel with a modern edge.

Should we go? Yes. We would certainly recommend trying it and taking a good few guests along to justify ordering more dishes!

Cost: ££

The Avenue, Manchester, M3 3HF
0161 358 1350
http://www.ibericarestaurants.com

Review: Gaucho Piccadilly

Gaucho
Out Of Office reviews Gaucho Piccadilly – one of London’s best steak restaurants for any occasion

Walking into Gaucho, it’s dark, sleek, chic and stylish. You’re greeted by friendly and professional receptionists, and as they take your coats and point you to the restaurant upstairs they are super apologetic about the current state of affairs. The restaurant may be undergoing a major  refurbishment downstairs, but it doesn’t impact the experience.

Like all the Gaucho restaurants the decor is a mixture of black, chrome and cow skin. The music is muted and cool, and and the chandeliers and bottles of booze make the place shine. It feels like a special location and, when the wine and dishes come out, it only gets better.

We kicked off our Gaucho experience with two gin cocktails – a Yerba 10 and an Alvear Royal – before embarking on a journey through the wine.

Oh the wine, well where do we begin? The wine list itself is an impressive booklet and one my guest was tempted to take away as bedtime reading. It’s detailed, informative and rather large because every Gaucho offers a bespoke range of Argentinian wine. From the crisp white Torrentés to the full bodied Malbec – you will find a superb mix, all hand-picked and many unavailable anywhere else. It’ not surprise that Gaucho offer a case service so that you can enjoy your new favourite wine at home.

On to the food. For starters we had a crab tostada and a tuna ceviche, each trying a different Torrentés as recommended by our seasoned waitress.

Followed by this was the main event, the steak. We had 300g of Lomo (fillet) and 300g of Ancho (rib eye), both cooked perfectly to our liking (medium rare, of course). Accompanying the beef were beef dripping chips, spinach and flat mushrooms finished with peppercorn sauce. The steak was so tender and juicy, and the sides so moreish we never wanted it to end. (In fact, my guest had a tear in his eye when his plate was cleared!)

Feeling blissfully content and yet too curious to pass up on having something sweet, we opted for the chocolate truffles and another glass of Malbec to round things off.

What? An Argentinian steakhouse around 5-10 minutes walk form Piccadilly Station. There are also locations across London, Dubai and Hong Kong. There are vegetarian options on the menu to, but the most extensive choices exist for wine and steak.

Why choose Gaucho Piccadilly? This is Gaucho’s flagship restaurant in London. The venue is welcoming, stylish and historical – it was once the home of a Spanish Ambassador and the small private dining room (perfect for meetings or small celebrations) has an impressive tiled wall.  A relatively new introduction to the menu is the business lunch, which our readers should certainly sample.

Also every Gaucho venue is perfect for private functions, whether it’s a standing reception or a formal awards ceremony the team are adept at tailoring and creating a bespoke service for clients.

While the venue is undergoing a nip and tuck (new downstairs to be unveiled soon) the experience is not interrupted. However, we are looking forward to being invited back and reporting an update once the work is finished…

Cost: £££

25 Swallow Street, London, W1B 4QR
020 7734 4040
www.gauchorestaurants.com

 

Review: Del’Aziz, Bermondsey

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Out Of Office reviews Del’Aziz, an Eastern Mediterranean restaurant located in Bermondsey Square 

We were invited to sample Del’Aziz, located between Bermondsey and Southwark stations, following a refurbishment. The décor is stylishly Mediterranean, with plenty of Turkish-style lanterns, leather seats and wooden furniture.

We were surprised to find the restaurant, deli and bar so quiet on a Saturday evening but it is a large establishment to fill, plus it meant our waiter was extra attentive. Each branch of Del’Aziz also hosts belly dancing, live jazz and world music on a weekly basis (check the calendar), with these events attracting a good number of attendees.

On to the food… We started off with a vegetarian mezze platter featuring all the Med favourites like hummus, tzatziki and dolma. For the mains, we opted for the sea bass and the  lobster feast (£20 deal: whole lobster, or half with BBQ ribs, harissa wings, grilled chicken or gambas). For dessert we sampled a cake from the deli.

The highlight of the meal was certainly the starter – there is a lot on offer here, which is great for those not keen on Med food but we think it’s what they do best.

What? A Mediterranean bar and restaurant in a number of locations, including Bermondsey, Swiss Cottage and Clapham.

Why choose Del’Aziz? We’d recommend booking an entertainment night, ordering cocktails and mezze, and bringing your staff along for a end of quarter party. Also good for leisurely drinks and informal birthday celebrations.

Cost: ££

11 Bermondsey Square, London, SE1 3UN
020 7407 2991 / bermondsey@delaziz.co.uk
www.delaziz.co.uk

Review: Amantia, Birmingham

calamari
Ben Paddock reviews Amantia, a family run restaurant serving Spanish cuisine in the heart of Birmingham

A short walk up from New Street Station on Bennetts Hill, you’ll find  Amantia. This Spanish restaurant has been open for over a year serving authentic tapas and paella among other dishes.

To start we chose a mixture of tapas – Manchego cheese with fried almonds, potato and onion omelette and dates wrapped in pancetta. This turned out to be a great selection, the cheese was creamy and the sweetness of the dates combined with the pancetta was a great combo. There are enough options on this menu that you could easily have a well-varied meal on tapas alone.

For the main, we shared a seafood paella – each dish is easily enough between two. It came out in the pan and the waiter offered to serve it for us. This was a good hearty dish – plenty of rice and a good mix of mussels, salmon, prawns and calamari. We chose a red and white rioja from the wine list which was a ideal match for this dish.

Somehow we found room for dessert and opted for a traditional Spanish almond cake and chocolate torte. The almond cake was moist and had a great texture and the chocolate torte had the right level of richness. All in all this perfectly rounded off an enjoyable evening.

What? A friendly, family-run restaurant showcasing a great selection of original Spanish dishes, wine and sangria. They also have an extensive list of gin & tonic, as well as regular cocktails.

Why choose Amantia? You’ll be served by a team of people keen to show off Spain’s best dishes. You can enjoy a quick tapas lunch or take in the full works for dinner.

Cost: ££

9-10 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5RS
0121 643 3647 /  info@amantia.co.uk
www.amantiarestaurant.co.uk