The hybrid hype has returned after this week’s #Duffingate scandal, which saw Starbucks trademark their “new” Duffin, despite it having been produced by an independent London tearoom, Bea’s of Bloomsbury, for the past couple of years (Oh crumbs!). I’ve previously reviewed the original Duffin (here) and mentioned it in an article I wrote about combining recipes (here). My recent ramblings have concentrated on sweet, bakery goods but it seems some restaurants like The Brasserie have been smart enough to explore this idea further and develop their own unique combinations.
Last week I was invited along to The Brasserie at the Tower Hotel to sample their ‘Goanut’. “What’s a ‘Goanut” I hear you ask? Well, it’s quite simply a goat’s cheese doughnut! The thought of savoury cheese and sweet dough may not mix well with some, but to me, it sounds like a match made in heaven, so I jumped at the chance to be one of the first to try. Fellow blogger Amy and I were seated in the restaurant overlooking the River Thames and the beautiful Tower Bridge. We were greeted by Christian Rozsenich, the head chef at the Brassiere and chef Patrick Graf, who is the brains behind the menu. They explained how this strange combination of sweet and savoury came to light and the reasons why it works so well and we were encouraged to form our own opinion. They left us to our tasting and I can honestly say I was impressed. The Goanut is presented as ‘Goats Cheese Doughnuts’ on the menu, not to confuse people unaware of what this play on words may mean.
The doughnut balls were tremendously soft and bouncy, much fresher than the recent doughnuts I’ve tried and they weren’t at all greasy. They contained just enough goats cheese to flavour the dish without being too over powering or offsetting the sweet taste of the dough, which I must point out, wasn’t as sweet as I expected, as they weren’t coated in sugar. Presentation was sublime and the Goanuts were served with beetroot compote, an exceptional caramel mousse topped with caramel pecan nuts, which provided that perfect combination of sweet and savoury flavours. My only criticism is that the portion size could have been a little smaller, as this was a starter after all, and a little more of the caramel mousse as I do like my sauce.
After our tasting we were asked if we wanted to sample a few more dishes from the menu – why not! First up was squid ink lobster ravioli, prawns and a lobster bisque. Christian had to dash off but we were left in the capable hands of Peter who explained how each dish was made and his reasons for combining each of the ingredients. It takes him a whole three days to produce the lobster bisque (my first lobster experience may I add!) which covered the ravioli and you could certainly taste it as it was unbelievably fresh.
The dishes and their introductions kept coming incuding eight hours slow roasted pork with sauerkraut, walnut pudding and thyme jus, possibly the most tender I’d ever had and Barbary duck breast with slow roasted red cabbage, almond dumplings and an intriguing but scrumptious Clementine foam. Both mains contained a mixture of sweet and savoury flavours, like you often find with meat, with my favourite being the walnut cake (served with the pork).
Dessert included a summery bowl of quark dumplings, balsamic strawberries and a dollop of clotted cream that tasted identical to the ice cream alongside the chocolate cake. After my first taste of quark I mentioned that this reminded me of something I’ve see on a menu when skiing in Austria. Funnily enough when I mentioned this to Patrick, I learnt that he and most of the chefs at The Tower Hotel are Austrian.
The steamed chocolate nut cake looked divine but was slightly disappointing with the hard sponge being its main let down. This was served with light vanilla ice cream which was nice but nothing to write home about. Unfortunately, the pistachio mousse contained too much lime which offset the nutty taste. Both huge chocolate lovers, this was our least favourite dessert.
Our favourite was a refreshing key lime parfait served with coconut espuma and cranberry meringue. I wanted to point out that the parfait hadn’t defrosted properly but it was purposely served half frozen making the perfect end to a summer meal. The flavours were big and the texture smooth. I’ll be sad to see it go in a few weeks when The Brasserie’s Winter Menu is revealed. Between you and me, we heard that spicy crab bonbons with coconut cotton candy and a plate of game with cracked black pepper ice cream will be making an appearance!
I had a wonderful meal in The Brassiere at the Tower Hotel and was surprised by the adventurous menu and combination of distinctive flavours. The service was impeccable and this certainly isn’t your usual hotel restaurant. I know this because I’ve previously stayed at The Tower Hotel as a paying guest and have dined at The Brasserie a couple of times, experiencing the same standard of food and service on every visit. Hats off to Christian, Patrick and the rest of the team at The Brasserie for being brave enough to launch the Goanut, taking hotel dining to a whole new level.
Living life, loving cake,
[…] Hanger steak (£16), sauce (£2) and chips (£3) for £19, saving them a reasonable £5. After a tasting session at The Tower Hotel the previous evening, I wasn’t overly hungry so I settled for a ‘crock’. I […]