Not Afternoon Tea at OXO Tower Brasserie (London, UK)
OXO Tower Brasserie is found on the rooftop of an award-winning, riverside landmark building named the OXO Tower, found on the South Bank of London. This tower houses some of the most innovative and internationally renowned contemporary designers, and exhibition venues gallery@oxo and Bargehouse.
The area is sort of what reminds me of Williamsburg, Brooklyn back in the late 1990s, where it’s an industrial area but revamped to an artistic hub. Shoppers and diners who go up to OXO Tower Brasserie are definitely the well-to-do locals, as I recalled smelling a strong scent of a woman’s Dior fragrance when a few shoppers and browsers passed me by.
Riding up the elevator to the 8th floor (the top of this building), I was warmly greeted with professional, gracious staff members. When I look to the right from their station, the stunning floor to ceiling views of the Thames River and the south end of London with an open plan kitchen with primarily a grey blue color scheme to reflect the tower’s exterior.
My reasoning to come out the slightly out of the way location is because of their unique, modern interpretation of afternoon tea, as they named it, Not Afternoon Tea. Beyond the usual suspects of a pot of tea, scones and maybe cakes, OXO Tower Brasserie serves thoughtful, themed plated desserts paired with a bespoke cocktail. Prices start at £24.50 ($41.13, based on the conversion of £1 = $1.68) for one cocktail per person or £34.50 ($57.92) for two bespoke cocktails per person.
I craved something seasonal (it’s early spring) and opted for their Rhubarb Rhubarb Rhubarb. A gorgeous bold cobalt blue edged plate filled with four petit desserts that were indeed rooted in the wonderfully, tart, bright magenta vegetable. On the plate:
Rhubarb pistachio sponge, gin sorbet
Rhubarb tart fine, licorice ice cream
Rhubarb and hibiscus shot
Rhubarb, fennel, and Perroche mousse
The desserts are large enough to satiate your sweet tooth but not too much that you feel like you’re overindulging from lunch earlier or your upcoming dinner.
The tart fine was served warm and it surprised me how delicious it was since I’m usually not a licorice fan but it was delicate enough that it just brought enough spice. That was my favorite sweet.
I liked the pleasantly hibiscus and rhubarb granita shot with three meringue fingers to give some crisp texture and sweetness. The cloud-like, delicately flavored Perroche goat cheese mousse was nicely paired with the diced, poached rhubarb with that strip of candied grapefruit peel. The pistachio sponge layered with poached rhubarb was tasty and refreshing but maybe could use some filling to make this cake mesh better.
The bespoke cocktail pairing is called Not too Shoddy, made of Chase rhubarb vodka, Hendricks gin shaken with Licor 43, orange blossom water, fresh lemon juice, and topped with rhubarb foam. This fruity, clean flavored cocktail was nicely balanced with the with the hint of the Spanish licorice-y Licor 43 liqueur. Mind you, this cocktail was potent and it’s fantastic.
The other offering I opted for was Cup of Tea since I wanted to see and taste what was the kitchen’s vision reminiscent of London – all things tea.
On the plate:
Earl Grey tea honey cake (foreground left)
Darjeeling panna cotta with a teaspoon tuile cookie (top left)
Chai meringue toffee cream
Chamomile and orange pudding with honey cakes
Cubes of citrus and brown sugar fresh marshmallows
This plate of desserts were overall very good. I adored their soft, slightly wobbly panna cotta that had subtle hint of Darjeeling’s unique flavor. The Early Grey honey tea cake was a fluffy, Earl Grey tea sponge cake that soaked with just enough of honey syrup. The crispy, crumbly chai meringue sandwich with toffee cream was very good and not too sweet. The creamy, citrus pudding swathed on the slate plate with a duo of moist honey cakes were actually favorite item of that particular plate. The fluffy, fresh cubes of marshmallows were delectable.
The Marmaduke was the cocktail pairing. It’s a mixture of Chase marmalade vodka, Seville orange marmalade, Lillet rouge. Shaken with bergamot liqueur & Earl Grey tea. Super citrusy and sweet but potent. Dangerous combination.
OXO Tower Brasserie certainly has a different perspective of afternoon tea by still retaining the elegance but shaking things up by having the pairing of well executed cocktails in lieu of pots of tea and traditional pastries. The views of Thames River and looking on the south end of North London are huge pluses and priceless.
To view more photos of this visit, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE):