We like to taste Britain in many ways. Our main criteria is that the food/drink is British or can be consumed in Britain. So, what I describe to you here might be considered as ‘tasting Canada in Britain’ or ‘tasting Britain via Canada’, in honour of Canada Day on Monday, July 1st.
Why am I going on about Canada, you may ask? A good question…
And, as is sometimes the case, in exchange for my ability to spit out write-ups in a hurry, I get the chance to try something at the last minute. So, invited down by the generous people at Siren Communications, I headed down to The Brasserie restaurant in the Charing Cross Hotel to try the new Canada Day inspired menu.
This menu is, if you hadn’t gathered by now, rather Canadian themed. To be honest, I didn’t know all that much about Canadian food, asides from that authentic Canadian maple syrup is goddamn delicious, and that Canadian bacon is also a very good thing. Turns out both of them would show up on my table at some point, along with a few other unexpected surprises.
So here’s what I got to try for on this speedy taste test…
Newfoundland Caribou wrapped in Peameal Bacon with Carrot and Parsnip Puree and Grated Beets – So, this is one of my few experiences with caribou. And it was a good experience indeed. It’s taste is similar to venison but not quite so ‘sharp’ and gamey. I guess like halfway between venison and beef. The texture is thick and for lack of a better phrase, ‘meaty’ and they cook it so that it’s bloody in the middle. This, according to the waiter, isn’t optional here (not that I’m complaining, I like my cuts as blue as I can get them). The bacon wrapping was a nice touch, adding a little fatty richness to the super lean, gamey caribou. I love game meat, great success.
Second course was Pancakes With maple syrup, accompanied with Ice cream and Chocolate Sprinkles – Pancakes are another thing I suppose I equate with Canada, and I love how fast they were with serving up dessert here. Hurry up and eat your caribou so we can ply you with pancakes…
I was kinda expecting those ‘American style’ thick pancakes that get piled up under layers of butter and syrup, but these were essentially crepes (which are BETTER and more French). I guess it’s not too surprising, considering that the Northern part of Canada is hugely influenced by French culture. Good idea, Tim Wanless (the head chef and I assume the guy who decided that crepes should be an option).
A nice touch with these pancakes was what I think was popping candy. You could actually hear crackling sounds as the crepes arrived, a bit like pouring milk on Coco Pops (are those still a thing?). And then you could hear it in your head as you ate them. As I keep saying, I’m not a ‘dessert guy’ – but these pancakes were pretty legit. The ice cream and chocolate sprinkles melted simultaneously onto the pancakes, mingling with generous splashes of syrup, and the pancakes were soft and slightly crispy at the edges, absorbing the whole culinary combination quite nicely. Damn.
So, yeah, I was pretty impressed with the food here. Is this how all Canadians eat? I dunno – I hope not, it makes us look pretty bad in comparison, and that much sugar can’t be good for you in the long run…
Anyway, here’s some of the stuff I didn’t get to try…
The alternate main course was Grilled Canadian Pacific Salmon Steak with Clam Chowder Sapphire and Ontario Baby Sweetcorn – which only one person ordered, though I must say it looked amazing! (no pics, sorry). The alternative dessert choice was ‘Beaver Tail‘ – a type of deep fried dough that is perhaps similar to a Spanish ‘churro’. It looked similar in shape to a croissant, but was solid all the way through and I don’t think had the flakey pastry you equate with a croissant. If we’re honest, deep fried dough scares my arteries so I polite declined an opportunity to try this one 🙂
O, Immediate Surroundings!
Now would be a good time to give you an idea of what The Brasserie’s like…
So, despite commuting from Charing Cross station every day a few years back, and passing Charing Cross Hotel on my way daily, I’d never actually been in. It was as you may imagine, pretty comfortable and easy on the eye. As I said, Guoman’s known for rather luxurious surroundings and the whole place has an hair of refinement to it. I quite liked it. I was expecting it to be full of ‘ladies who lunch’ types and retired invcstment bankers, but it wasn’t. It seemed full of large European families and people with American accents. The place had an affluent feel, but not so affluent to completely alienate my lower middle class Croydonian sensitive sensibilities.
And another cool thing that I’ve not seen anywhere else was that all the restaurant staff had international nametags (i.e with a flag) that seemed to correspond to where the person was from – I guessed this from their accents and appearances (…elementary, my dear Watson…).
It kind felt like dining at a UN reception, whilst being hosted by the Canadians, or something.
As for The Brasserie itself, it had the same level of spaciousness and fine upholstery that the rest of the hotel had. Overlooking the balcony, you were treated to a glorious view of the Strand, all bustling in the summer. Mighty fine ambiance for a slow and relaxed meal with good company (as oppose to motoring your way through a taster, as I was doing…)
So yeah, if ‘Canuck Cuisine’ is your thing, you may wanna try out the Canada Day menu at The Charing Cross Hotel.
Location: Charing Cross
The Strand London
0871 376 9012