People who like big strong wines and/or big strong steaks, in the style of the big strong American steakhouse that we’re doing so well in this country
People taking other people they want to impress during a ‘date type scenario’ – a place of low light, muted colour, big prices and high quality
Midlands based corporate people doing corporate things (I saw a chamber of commerce function when I was there) – perhaps looking to impress others in a ‘work type scenario’ – whilst/before getting rekt on splendid wine and food…
In A Word
Steakhouse / Modern British
Grill On Tour
As the name may suggest, Grill La Tour lives inside Hotel La Tour. The building is almost unassailable for its, I suppose, ‘modernist’ shape, running oblique to the road. You sure can’t miss it.
Stepping into the restaurant, you get something of a ‘hotel restaurant steakhouse’ feeling – low light, I suppose romantic decor – with red and dark tones as the theme. Suited and bow tied staff with unfailingly polite delivery look after you. You may avail yourself of impressively comfortable seats in a variety of shapes – and some oversized lampshades.
(*starts to sound too formal and checks himself*)
So yeah, I show up 30 minutes early but this is OK with them! And why am I here? I have been sent to Birmingham to explore the Independent Food And Drink Festival (which turns out to be a lot of fun). I am dining alone which feels as odd/wrong .
Clientele? Multiple dining groups come and go as I tortoise my way through the meal. One man and his two daughters turns out to be one man and his very young wife and daughter – also he is Spanish. One couple of women, and older and a younger one seem to eat every variation on bread and butter and no other kinds of dish. This must be some kind of new diet based around blasting your LDL cholesterol levels with simple carbs.
Another is a mixed race couple who get more and more bleary eyed as the night goes on and they work their way through first a bottle of white wine, and then some rose. I don’t see them disappear but they look like they’re having fun!
One couple next to me discuss cheesecake in great detail and other stuff, and so I can’t help but accidentally overhear a few features of their private life.
Cool story bro, tell it again.
Watching others, service seems to slow down later into the night, as things wind down. There’s a chamber of commerce function going on adjacent by the terrace which means that I am unable to take any pictures of that area for you 🙁
Also there is a fully automated toilet which worries me quite a lot MACHINE OVERLORDS
I find my favourite and most ultimate wine, The Federalist which initially inexperienced waitress says they can do by the glass (no they can’t!) then she realises they don’t and is apologetic “I am sorry we do not have your favourite wine :(“.
Then I have a really great conversation with her which basically ends with her responding – ‘wat – I am French‘. lulz.
Anyway, that’s OK, I get a ‘replacement wine’, Portillo Malbec, Valle de Uco, Mendoza – which does the job quite nicely (in a place like this you’re probably not gonna get a bad red wine). Said replacement wine arrives in an overly fluted glass and cannot be properly swilled. do you even sommelier
The soundtrack is typical low volume swanky singer songwriter evolving into Nina Simone songs I don’t recognise, a slow version of Valerie and eventually the overly melancholic tones of Chris Isaac.
brb committing suicide in the toilet. *joke ends abruptly*
Modern British food, Modern British approach, I guess. Without someone to cheer me on/laugh in bemusement/amusement, I am unable to summon the strength for a Hercluean meal. So I pass on the 900g grass fed tomahawk steak (for two) opting for chicken and sides.
Previously the menu was all ‘fine dining’ but they recently switched to grill style. Who needs fkn fine dining anyway? Aren’t steaks pretty fine as it is? Plus they have fine wines. That’s enough fine for one place.
Also, certain dishes marked out on the menu by a leaf are grown on a rooftop about a mile away. Great idea!
They bring a bread tray with oil and butter (I do not ask for this). it gets neglected ‘cos of all the other food and then mysteriously disappears.
Severn & Wye Classic Smoked Salmon
Elegant construction collapses under the knife when I try to cut, pieces of rich, buttery thin bread fragmenting everywhere. It also shakes the table which feels a lot less sturdy
If you prod the bread with your knife/fork it fragments further. A bit like whack-a-mole with food. I am ok with this. The salmon is rich and good as salmon should be.
The thick ‘sauce’ is some kind of mustard creation, which ‘lifts’ the dish (and your nose) with a little horseradish kick. The winner is when you combo each layer into something which is crunchy and varying degrees of squashy all at the same time. Get some of the delicious elusive chewy capers in there for the full 9 yards.
Marinated in chilli, lime & peanut, served over sticky rice & satay sauce
Once detached from its skewer, you wonder where to put said skewer. I leave it perched dangerously on a side plate, pointy end facing my way (probably better that it gets me than someone else, lol-lawsuit)
The chicken is just… voodoo – slightly sweet but not in an obvious glaze. I would like to know how they create it. The rice is savoury and seems to have a shredded coconut in it. Impressive.
There’s also a warm sweet sauce in a tiny container that tastes like a maddeningly familiar combo of peanut and marmite (I think).
Mixed Vegetables and Creamed Potatoes
‘Mixed Vegetables?’ Thanks for the super informative description guys. I’m not exactly sure what everything is in here. I know for sure that there’s aubergine and pumpkin seeds, and I’m pretty sure that there’s mushrooms too. Collectively, they all taste soft, homogeneous and rich. They’re seasonal too, so what I get here might not be what you get should you visit later in the year.
The pumpkin seeds are threateningly chewy at first, and then quickly succumb to your molars. It’s all a bit like the Second Gulf War. Ooooooooooooooooooooo
The potato is thick like concrete and rich like Croesus.
Dessert is too much at this point and abandoned in favour of mint tea.
I spend quite a while waiting to try and get attention for a freshmint tea – it arrives and I am suspicious of the Twinings tea bag roped around the teapot handle but it ends up tasting legit so this is OK
This reminded me kind of like they’d used one of the Marriot’s steakhouses as a template and then modified it to fit a newer, more experimental and I suppose, unique format (as Hotel La Tour is not part of a chain). It’s familiar, but not too familiar, and the atmosphere is really perfect.
I would indeed recommend it to steak people hanging out in Birmingham, or anyone with an expense account and a good impression to make. Would certainly return to see if their steak is a good as the chicken fillet.
A: Albert St, Birmingham, West Midlands B5 5JE
P: 0121 718 8000