Aalto Restaurant – Hotel La Tour

Back in May I was invited to the launch of a new hotel and restaurant in Birmingham called Hotel la Tour. Due to business commitments I had to turn it down, but as soon as I saw the afternoon unfold on twitter then read Katy Truss’ account of the day I knew I was going to have to reply yes to my invite to visit in the future. Hotel restaurants and bar can have a bit of a reputation for substandard food (trust me, I’ve tried many!), but Hotel La Tour is doing something different.

The premise of Aalto restaurant is very much classic British dishes with a modern twist at affordable prices and they have had Marcus Wareing on board in an advisory role to help with menu creating, but praise must fall with Alex Penhaligon, Hotel La Tour’s Head Chef.

The evening started in the Alvar Bar with cocktail called 1889, named after the year Birmingham became a city. This gin, ginger and apple cocktail was delicious and one I would happily drink again and again. There is talk of us trying to recreate it again at home, but I doubt it’ll taste as good. This was served with a portion of very morish salt and pepper popcorn.

As entered the restaurant we were greeted by a talented pianist who played for most of the evening and hats off to him, we didn’t hear one song repeated. For the evening we were looked after by Daniel who was fabulous. As well as explaining the dishes he was wonderful at choosing the wines to match our meals and helping us try wines we would have probably ignored in the past. Only that day had the menu changed to complement the summer that should have been here by now, but that didn’t put me off from choosing a chilled pea soup. The pudding feind I am means I always look at the pudding menu first and work my way backwards so seeing Bakewell Tart on the menu sealed the deal.

Chilled pea soup, black olive crumble, pea shoots, crumbly sheep’s cheese

Harrogate loaf, terrine of veal, bacon parsley and caper salad

Friendly Gruner Veltliner, Laurenz V

Cock-a-leekie pie – chicken, leek, parsley, summer greens

Cornish sea bass, creamed leed, mussels, grain mustard

Talia Torrontes

Apple & blackberry crumble, custard, calvados cream

Bakewell Tart, Cornish clotted cream

Nectar Pedro Ximenez Dulce Sherry

Sherry reminds me of holiday last year. There was a decanter of sherry in the tent and back then it was certainly required for warmth, this time it was like thick nectar (hence the name) and really helped finish the meal.

At the moment the view from the hotel is very much dominated by roadworks with the distinctive silver cloud of Selfridges in the distance. The location of the hotel is perfect with only a short walk to The Bullring and both Moorstreet and New Street Station. From what I understand this part of Birmingham has received money to regenerate this area and it is really beginning to work. I’m planning to return again soon to with friends to try their Afternoon Tea and probably one or two more of their cocktails. There was a sophisticated atmosphere throughout the hotel, yet not pretentious in the slightest. Also probably the best staff I’ve ever come across in a city centre hotel. Their standard of customer service was up there with the staff at Michelin starred Northcote.

We were the guests of Hotel La Tour who kindly paid for the meal, drinks and room for the night. All words and opinions are our own. A big thank you to Sue & Hotel La Tour who invited us along.

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