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Mostly Food & Travel Journal

Moët Movies at Axis

Indigo Afternoon Tea

Sunday Brunch at Indigo

Trolley in the Lobby - Bar at One Aldwych

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Hotel Reviews
- One Aldwych Hotel

On this page:

Moët Movies at Axis

Indigo Afternoon Tea

Sunday Brunch at Indigo

Trolley in the Lobby - Bar at One Aldwych

Trolley in the Lobby - Bar at One Aldwych

lobby bar The name ‘lobby bar’ might give the impression that this is something of an after-thought. Perhaps a venue through which to pass. A prequel to the main event. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

One Aldwych and its Lobby Bar occupy one of the most important Edwardian buildings in London. One doesn’t have to have a degree in architecture to be impressed by this hotel. One might remark that it has a hint of Paris about it and indeed it does. In 1889 it was decided to create a link between Holborn and the Strand. The new road was called Kingsway and at the spot where it joined the Strand a sweeping crescent was built, and that is Aldwych. One Aldwych, as the address would imply, stands at the corner. In 1905 celebrated Anglo-French architects Mewes and Davis designed the building we see today.

The Lobby Bar is spacious and retains many of its original features. High ceilings stand testament to its grand past as newspaper offices at the turn of the last century. The windows are original and are a striking feature. If one looks up to the left of the bar one might notice a glass door in a state of suspended animation: that was originally an entrance.

But in truth, unless you happen to have that aforementioned degree in architecture, it’s likely you will be more interested in the bar than the door. It’s a well-stocked and well-staffed affair which offers both classic and contemporary cocktails to its loyal followers. This isn’t just any old cocktail bar. The Lobby Bar at One Aldwych has been recognised as one of the finest. The bartenders are award winners and the Manager is also something of an innovator and inventor too!

lobby bar Pablo Paulo has created that veritable beverage chariot. It’s the Old-Fashioned Cocktail Trolley. No, the trolley isn’told-fashioned in its design but in its delivery. It’s been made to create the classic Old-Fashioned cocktail at the guest’s table. It does indeed add a touch of tasteful theatre to the experience but it also engages visitors and educates them as well.

This moving bar was launched at the start of 2017. Each Old-Fashioned cocktail is blended to the guest’s personal taste and is prepared at the tableside by one of The Lobby Bar’s skilled bartenders. The permutations are endless; but what actually is an Old Fashioned cocktail?

The first documented use of the word ‘cocktail’ was in response to a reader’s letter asking to define the word in a May 1806 issue of The Balance and Columbian Repository in New York. Later that same month the paper’s editor wrote that it was a “potent concoction of spirits, bitters, water, and sugar.”

The first use of the name ‘Old Fashioned’ for a Bourbon whiskey cocktail was said to have been at the Pendennis Club, a gentlemen’s club in Louisville, Kentucky. The Lobby Bar offers as one of its possible components Woodford Reserve American Whiskey. Distillation began on the site of what is now the Woodford Reserve distillery in 1812. It’s the oldest operating distillery in Kentucky and their spirits are considered some of the best of their genre, and the indispensable spirit for the classic Old-Fashioned.

lobby bar Patrón Silver tequila is a less usual spirit for an Old-Fashioned but, in combination with bitters and flavoured simple syrup, it’s perfect and very different from the classic. This is an ultra-premium white spirit and crystal clear. It’s made using only the finest 100 percent Weber blue agave in Mexico and has a clean fresh taste but still very distinctive.

Rum is another option from the trolley. Pedro has chosen Bacardi’s 8-year-old Rum. This is a refined rum for the discerning palate. It makes a unique Old Fashioned but one which, I feel sure, will become one of the most requested from the trolley.

Monday – Friday: 8.00am - midnight
Saturday: 9.00am - midnight
Sunday: 9.00am - 10.30pm

The Lobby Bar
One Aldwych
1 Aldwych
London WC2B 4BZ

Phone: +44 (0)20 7300 1000

Visit One Aldwych here.

food and travel reviews

Moët Movies at Axis, One Aldwych

One Aldwych is one of the best addresses. It stands on a corner plot in the middle of London in Covent Garden. This is an area which once boasted London’s biggest vegetable market but which is now celebrated as an iconic space filled with restaurants, boutiques and a market which these days sells crafts and objets d’art...

The hotel is in a convenient location between the City and the West End where The Aldwych meets the Strand, and opposite Waterloo Bridge. It’s just a short distance from 15 celebrated theatres as well as the Royal Opera House.

One Aldwych is an important Edwardian building. It is now protected by English Heritage who considers its facade worth preserving. It’s an architectural extravaganza of Continental-inspired splendour, designed by Charles Mewes and Arthur Davis, the Anglo-French duo behind the Ritz hotels in London and Paris.

hotel review Yes indeed a fabulous place to stay when in town for business or touristing, but One Aldwych is a port of call for Londoners as well as out-of-towners who want to enjoy a bit of evening pampering and a film. The film isn’t compulsory but the Axis restaurant offers an amazing package of Moët champagne and a movie. A full evening of entertainment.

The entrance to Axis is calm and Zen, a vision of marble and a welcome haven from the frantic Saturday evening crowd flowing down from Covent Garden. The anonymous foyer at ground level gives not a hint of the contemporary style of the restaurant. It’s stunning. The space is flexible allowing for groups, couples and large parties. The urban mural of skyscrapers now peeks through metal bamboo which reaches from floor to ceiling. A rather radical addition to the original decor but it works and adds texture to the imposing wall. The thoughtful architecture offers a gallery dining room which, although a balcony, offers privacy to the diners on that level.

The movie menu has a selection of four starters, mains and desserts. The film starts at 9pm so the time constraints make this short menu a practical option. It weighs in at an attractive £38.50 per person and that includes a glass of fizz and a film with popcorn.

Movie-going in London can be expensive, with tickets reaching £12.50. Add another £2.50 for the popcorn and then hope you get a good seat. The one without the kid kicking your back all evening. Axis offers a menu of delicious dishes as well as the champagne for a very reasonable price. The cinema seats 30 or so guests who are able to sip mini bottles of champagne, or perhaps a cocktail might be in order. 93% of regular movie-goers are said to be dissatisfied with the food on offer at their chosen high-street venue. No such problem at Axis.

Rillette of Salmon, blood orange, fennel and chicory salad and a sour dough crouton was my chosen starter. Served with a basket of fresh bread and butter, it made for a comforting start to the proceedings. I munched the light and fresh salad and enjoyed the ambiance of this amazing restaurant. A space which contrives to remain intimate even when full.

restaurant and hotel review axis The menu offered roasted haddock, salmon fishcakes and braised pork belly, but my main course was Tarte Fines of Wild Mushroom. This was a simple plateful but one of the best European dishes I have eaten in a restaurant for ages. The pastry galette was spread with a duxelle (ok, so it was a paste but I am trying to educate my dear reader) of mushrooms and was topped with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. That’s a match made in heaven as long as the egg is poached to golden, molten perfection. This one was and it was creamy with the added richness of its buttery coating.

Desserts are too often disappointing. I am not keen on swags and swathes of cream, and a surfeit of chocolate is to be avoided when one is confronted by the prospect of a ride the length of the District Line soon after. Axis offers a selection which hit all the buttons for me and my only disappointment was that I couldn’t try all of them. My guest ordered Baked Jam Roly Poly with plum compote and crème anglaise (custard). This is an old-fashioned favourite and it’s good to see it return to even classy restaurant menus. This version was proclaimed to be particularly good.

I chose Poached Rhubarb, as eating fruit always makes me feel noble...ummmm, is it a fruit, though? The pink and glossy bars of rhubarb were garnished with a little condensed milk flan and a crunchy coconut tuille. A refreshing end to a wonderfully well-executed and presented meal which had been amply lubricated by the efforts of Messrs Moët.

The screening room is just through the aforementioned stand of bamboo. The screen is large, the seats comfy in blue leather, and each one equipped with a tray for balancing your beverage and a pot of popcorn. A good lot of legroom allowed me the best movie viewing experience ever. I enjoyed ‘Coco Before Chanel’ immensely but I’ll be keeping an eye on future programmes for other viewing evenings.

I’ll visit Axis often. The ‘meal and a movie’ package is great value and the associated menu is well chosen and memorable. I am sure to return for other films but I have had a glimpse of the regular bill of fare which is also calling to me. Axis doesn’t put a foot wrong.

Axis Restaurant
One Aldwych
1 Aldwych, London WC2B 4RH
Tel:020 7300 1000
Fax:020 7300 1001
Visit One Aldwych here.

food and travel reviews

Indigo Afternoon Tea - One Aldwych

Indigo Restaurant at One Aldwych Hotel is the ideal spot for a spot of tea. Its unique location allows for the essential “people watching” without the disadvantages of traffic fumes and noise, and with the added benefit of those aforementioned people being kept at a healthy distance. You’ll have a good view of the moving London landscape from your cosy eyrie.

restaurant review Indigo restaurant now offers the celebrated British afternoon tea with a delicious twist on the much-loved experience. Tony Fleming, the hotel’s executive chef, takes advantage of the finest, freshest ingredients and has tweaked the classic dainties – both sweet and savoury – to present a contemporary version of the typical afternoon tea. Nothing too outlandish or shocking to refined sensibilities, just changes to offer a lighter although equally indulgent experience.

This restaurant is a favourite of mine. In fact the hotel with both Indigo and Axis restaurants is a haven of understated good taste and a refuge from the bustle of city life. We ordered Assam and Darjeeling teas and settled back. I was expecting something charming and different and that’s what I got.

The three-tier stand is traditional and there were sandwiches. Roast beef, pink and tempting and spiked with horseradish, in my opinion the essential condiment, is served on caramelised onion bread. Smoked salmon is a must and here it has a spread of cream cheese on onion bread. Cucumber and cream cheese is matched with caraway bread to make one feel elegant and a bit Victorian (although they might have missed out on the cream cheese, and the bread would doubtless have remained sans caraway).

Sandwiches constitute the majority of that lower layer but Indigo has added some savouries and they are miniature versions of the dishes that were so popular as part of a High Tea a century or so ago. The hearty Scotch Egg is now made with a quail egg, and the Welsh Rarebit is a crunchy crouton topped with the cheesy mix.

The usual route to teatime satisfaction lies in starting at the bottom with the sandwiches and working up. I would counsel that you should have the ground floor platter first and then pass swiftly to the third. The Eton Mess is presented in a small glass and will captivate anyone with a passion for sweet decadence. Dive in, as this concoction is best consumed fresh.

Traditional warm Scottish drop-scones served with berry compote and clotted cream also grace that top deck. They replace the notoriously fickle regular scones. They are light and delicate and a worthy addition to the plate. But cakes are perhaps the most eagerly anticipated of the collection and they grace the middle level of the stand.

The Bitter Chocolate Tart has a truly adult and sophisticated taste. It might look a small slice but it’s rich; and there is pink and yellow checker-board Battenberg to follow. This really will evoke memories of childhood, although my childhood was punctuated with Battenberg from a box, a pale imitation of this Indigo delight. But there is more to come in the guise of carrot cake. A great example here with evidence of both nuts and carrots, and aromatic with warming spices. A substantial slice.

Afternoon tea at Indigo is a new enterprise. It’s only been available for a few weeks but it’s already popular. There was a pre-wedding celebration party, the girls wearing flowery dresses to complement the pastel teatime display. Another table held a family of three generations, grandparents sipping champagne while baby in high-chair tucked into a finger of sandwich and squidgy fist or two of cake. Contentment and joy reigned. I’ll return for another tranquil Saturday afternoon and I am sure the others will as well.

Afternoon tea must be booked in advance.
£26.50 per person
£35.00 per person including a glass of Louis Roederer Champagne

London restaurant review: Indigo Restaurant - One Aldwych
1 Aldwych, London WC2B 4RH
Tel: 020 7300 0400
Fax: 020 7300 0401

food and travel reviews

Sunday Brunch at Indigo restaurant – One Aldwych

London restaurant review One Aldwych has one of the best locations in London. It stands on a corner plot in the middle of the capital in Covent Garden, that neighbourhood being famed as the backdrop for My Fair Lady. It’s a stone’s throw from the River Thames and all the iconic sights of old London.

The hotel is nestled between the City and the West End where The Aldwych meets the Strand, and opposite Waterloo Bridge. It’s just a short distance from more than a dozen celebrated theatres as well as the world-famous Royal Opera House. It is considered a noteworthy Edwardian building and is now protected by English Heritage. It’s an architectural extravaganza of Continental-inspired splendour, designed by Charles Mewes and Arthur Davis, the Anglo-French duo behind the Ritz hotels in London and Paris.

This stylish hotel is the lodging of choice for many a visitor from beyond these shores. It’s prized for being just around the corner from so many places of interest but it also caters for those who are not staying but just passing through. Guests who drop in for a meal and even for some entertainment in the small but well-appointed cinema next to Axis, One Aldwych’s other restaurant.

It was a bright Sunday afternoon and we were in the mood for brunch. Indigo at One Aldwych offers a striking restaurant, a calming ambiance and a thoughtful menu. It’s a small enough restaurant to feel intimate, and casual enough for you to feel comfortable meandering through the Sunday colour supplements.

london restaurant review Our fellow brunchers comprised a few who were evidently hotel guests lingering over the papers and breakfast, but also some regulars from across the Pond. The staff were bombarded with requests for dishes which were almost but not quite on the menu. A ham omelette sans ham – the guest would like that on the side. Some goat cheese - that wasn’t even on the menu but there was a promise that the restaurant would find some. These requests were fielded with courtesy, charm and a willingness to please. I was warming to Indigo and we hadn’t even ordered yet.

Indigo offers soup, salads, on-toast items, mains, desserts, and any two courses of the above with unlimited Prosecco for only £24. That sounded like outstanding value but the food has to be good. The Soup of the Day was watercress and it was the most vibrant and light of its kind that my guest and I had ever seen.  It was delicately garnished with oil and crème fraiche and served with a selection of breads.

Some folks expect a roast on Sundays and Indigo offers that in an interesting fashion. A roast beef salad with watercress, Yorkshire pudding and horseradish sauce. It’s a light alternative to the traditional Sunday lunch, but my fancy on this occasion was Wild Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions on Toast. This simple dish was a small culinary triumph of both texture and taste. The fungi were cooked to perfection and still held their original contours. The large field mushrooms added substance and the onions were sweetly moreish. A very good start.

london restaurant review Other items on the Toast menu included Welsh Rarebit and Scotch Woodcock. A word or two by way of explanation: Welsh Rarebit is not a bunny from Wales but is a dish of seasoned melted cheese on toast, sometimes containing a dash of ale and/or Worcester Sauce. Scotch Woodcock isn’t a highland game-bird but a savoury dish consisting of scrambled eggs served on toast that has been spread with something tangy like anchovy paste or Gentleman's Relish. Yes, a British menu can confound the visitor.

Kedgeree has been a breakfast favourite since Queen Victoria and the days of the old Raj. An Anglo-Indian preparation of seasoned rice, hard-boiled eggs and smoked haddock. It’s often dry and uninteresting but the version at Indigo has been tweaked into a moist and flavourful dish which, although still holding to its roots, was somewhat elevated. The rice had a rich yellow hue from spices and had the consistency of an Italian risotto. The eggs were quails’ and the grilled haddock was perched on top rather than finding itself broken into petals and mixed with the rice. A more refined presentation, and a delicious take on a classic British favourite.

london restaurant review Other dishes at Indigo also warrant mentions. The Crab and Chilli Risotto is a flavourful preparation and well worth trying. A creamy texture with a subtle suspicion of chilli. Plenty of seafood and an attractive coral colour. If you are a lover of more substantial fare then consider the Fish Pie which was well received by guests on the adjoining table and was a substantial serving.

Desserts tend to be a treat. Very few of us have the time to prepare a sweet during the week. Sunday brunch at Indigo offers the ideal opportunity to have a leisurely meal with a decadent finale. The brownies here were popular; the Banana Split came highly recommended and it was indeed the sort of pud that would make any diner feel like a kid again. Soft bananas with a crunchy sugar crust, chocolate and vanilla ice cream and fruit. Two spoons and a couple of cups of espresso and we were replete, complete and ready for the week.

Indigo at One Aldwich is an overlooked treasure. Grab a table on the balcony above the Lobby Bar. Enjoy the views from the magnificent dark wood-framed windows. Take a couple of hours to unwind and remember why Sundays were invented. Indigo does it well. Amazing value for money.

London restaurant review: One Aldwych
1 Aldwych, London WC2B 4RH
Tel: 020 7300 0400
Fax: 020 7300 0401

Visit One Aldwych here

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