The City is one of those funny places at the weekend. Quiet and free of the tourist wreckage that clogs up the streets of the more popular London places – Saturday afternoon Covent Garden and ugh, Piccadilly Circus I’m a talking to you – I actually love going through there and getting the chance to see the sleek and modern high rises competing with the more traditional and ornate buildings. I tell you what though, there’s a place called Off the Wall that is nestled down a little side street in between Moorgate and Liverpool Street and it is well worth navigating the silent streets of the City for because people, oh people, it’s great.
This year my birthday falls near a Bank Holiday and so it was that we found ourselves over excited as always to have an extra day of work and ready to celebrate my getting yet another year older, obviously wiser and undoubtedly more fabulous. J and I met up with my beautiful sister and brother-in-law for an afternoon of eating, drinking and toasting my impending middle aged-ness…
I’ve always imagine it must be nice to have your own restaurant to dine in. Well I can tell you, it is. As the only people in this hotel restaurant on a Bank Holiday Monday, the service was second to none and the food matched it. I say ‘hotel restaurant’ because that most likely conjures up a picture in your head…it’s probably not very good and it’s probably got fairly low expectations to go with it. This place, in an Apex hotel, shoots that out of the water.
Sea bass and shrimp croquettes with a caper and parsley sauce were perfectly crispy and crunchy on the outside with a filling that exploded sweet shrimp and meaty sea bass onto your tongue. Three was a great portion size to begin with, especially as the rest of the menu looked so tempting but honestly, I could have eaten triple the amount of these.
Having only ever had lobster once before in my life – I know, I know, deprived aren’t I?! – and having it not actually be very nice – sorry to name names but Browns in Kingston, you are the guilty party – I really wanted to rectify this and seeing lobster spaghetti with cherry tomato, parsley and chilli on the menu gave me just the opportunity to do so.
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh I could not be more converted right now I tell you. Until today, a reggae singing lobster answering to the name Sebastian was my favourite shellfish. Apologies for eating your cousin here today Sebastian, but my word, he tasted good. Spaghetti al dente dotted with generous chunks of coral coloured lobster that tasted so fresh – it was utterly gorgeous.
I have a weird habit of not wanting people in the same party to order the same food. Yep, it’s just one of my charming quirks that makes me such a delightful dining partner – ‘No! You cannot both have the gnocchi! Pick again!’ Sound familiar anyone I’ve ever eaten with?! Thankfully, as I birthday present I like to think, no-one needed shouting at today…hurrah! Lamb, duck and risotto were all things I wanted to eat and they were all things that my lovely companions picked and made yummy noises through though the red wine tinted risotto did take a few mouthfuls to get used to, more for it’s appearance than it’s flavour.
No candles on the pudding…fire hazard and all…but a mille feuille of chocolate and hazelnuts this pretty didn’t need any extra embellishment. I even allowed J the luxury of ordering the same dessert…well, a glass or two of lunchtime rose in makes me a much less shouty-about-my-food-and-your-food sort of person…
…and an orange parfait with a chocolate spiral and amaretto crumb alongside a rhubarb panna cotta with rhubarb coulis ended a fairly fabulous meal rather well.
If you ever stay at this hotel, count yourself damn lucky to have a restaurant as exciting and meticulous as this attached to it. If you don’t ever stay at this hotel, get yourself booking a table immediately because if you want to enjoy a fantastic experience in a seldom-visited-outside-of-work part of London, Off the Wall couldn’t come more highly recommended. Oh and wave a Taste Card at them for 50% off and love the meal even more.