It might not be any longer the Biblical day of rest but it still tends to be the day we ear-mark for special events, loved ones and unwinding. We might treat ourselves to a bit of a lay-in, enjoy a delicious meal, have a read of the Sunday papers, catch up with family and friends, perhaps a walk in the park… relax with…Errrr, so what was that about lovely food? If we are all soaking up the culture of the weekend periodicals and strolling around then who is doin’ the cookin’? I have, dear reader, the solution to the dilemma. You’ll get your walk in the park (Hyde Park) and you’ll even find some reading matter in the guise of a cookbook or two. Visit the Cookbook Café at the InterContinental Park Lane for Sunday Brunch.
I can hear it now: a chorus of “Has our favourite reviewer won the lotto?” “Does she think we are made of money?” I have taken leave of neither my senses nor much hard-earned cash. You will be pleased to learn that the aforementioned brunch is amazing value for money (under £50 per head) at an unbeatable location.
The Cookbook Café is a contemporary restaurant with huge windows onto one of the best corners of one of the world’s most vibrant and exciting cities. It’s bright and welcoming although the split-level dining area helps to create a cosy ambiance with tables arranged to be convenient and appealing to both couples and groups.
Hotel brunches so often disappoint. Perspex cylinders containing long-lingering and soggy cereals flanking half-hearted congealing attempts at a full English fry-up represent the breakfast section, whilst a slowly-drying quiche and curly cold cuts might launch the lunch element. The Cookbook Café brunch, however, draws a line in the sand and dares pretenders to compete.
The staff were welcoming and attentive. The champagne and Bellinis were in continual supply along with Bloody Marys and fruit juices. There was plenty of advice about the dishes on offer and the food was, quite simply, marvellous. There were salads and vegetable dishes enough to warm the heart of any committed vegetarian, fish aplenty and meats to satisfy the most carnivorous of visitors. The rustic display of starters offered some simple and standard fare, and the buffet was no worse for that, but we were tempted by other less-common platters.
Seared tuna is a pricey item on regular restaurant menus but here it was laying in ranks. It was perfectly cooked and looking like a tray of semi-precious stones. The nuggets of salmon with a hoisin glaze were a vision of glistening mahogany; a sea of smoked salmon was quickly replenished when there was even the slightest risk of the tide going out.
The cheese board was small but enticing. Cashel Blue and a Cornish brie tempted me. They were presented in perfect condition. The smoked turkey actually tasted as if it had really been on nodding terms with smouldering wood, and the pumpkin was sweet and tender enough to have been invited to garnish the dessert display.
After devouring a plate (well, three) of starters, it was on to the cooked selection. Brunch to me means New York, and New York is Eggs Benedict. This was made while I waited and was everything this simple dish should be: creamy, tangy and moreish. My guest chose a traditional roast with all the trimmings. The lamb (a joint of beef was also available) was detached from the bone with tongs! He is a Yorkshire lad who proclaimed the accompanying Yorkshire puddings as being “reet champion” (translation: As good as you’ll find in Barnsley.) The chafing dishes also offered a mixed seafood casserole aromatic with dill, seasonal vegetables, boiled potatoes, exotic aubergines, and duck in cherry sauce which is a must-try.
I have mentioned desserts in passing but I wasn’t and you won’t be, passing, that is. I am not typically a lover of sweet things but the array of tarts, cakes and brulees was too tempting. My companion opted for an individual lemon meringue pie and a raspberry brulee which he described as smooth and delicately crusted. I chose the white chocolate torte which was rich and creamy and a cut above other versions of the same confection I have recently encountered. All the desserts here are made by the Cookbook Café chefs.
Cookbook Café Sunday Brunch is the best brunch I have had in many a long year. No exclamations of “How much???” when the bill arrives. You’ll know exactly how much before you lift a fork. Great value for money. This is the spot to celebrate your son’s exam results, your auntie’s return from Tierra del Fuego or just Sunday.
Opening times:12.30pm till 4pm on Sundays
Cookbook Café at the InterContinental
1 Hamilton Place, Park Lane
tel.: 020 7318 8563
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018