It seemed an obvious choice to go to Hotel La Tour for lunch with my friend and fellow Bordeaux wine specialist for several reasons – proximity to the station, it’s new so needed investigating and the name bears a striking resemblance to First Growth Château Latour which we thought we could have some twitter fun with!
Being wine professionals the wine list, rather than the menu, grabbed our attention first. ‘Anything but Bordeaux’, says Wendy and this was easy to oblige as there was not a single wine from here, one of the oldest, most famous and highly regarded wine regions in the world. Quite a surprise as one of Bordeaux’s great strengths is its compatibility with food.
We began with a glass of Champagne, Veuve Clicquot Brut, as anyone would (or should) out for a girl’s lunch, putting the world to rights and not driving, and then actually continued with it through our starters. The olives we ordered never arrived.
The wine list is certainly more than adequate and the selection of whites by the glass is varied but for some reason nothing particularly excited us that day. Two glasses of Champagne is always better than one, however, so our lack of adventure was rewarded by tasty fizz which, people often forget, works really well with food. Wendy was impressed with her roasted fig tart with English goat’s cheese, hazelnuts and roquette and I thoroughly enjoyed my Heirloom tomato salad despite it being not an ideal course to match with any wine really but it was healthy and made me feel virtuous. And it was colourful, tasty and very, well, tomatoey.
Our mains of Yorkshire Venison Sausages, grilled spring onions and celeriac mash for Wendy and Pig’s Cheek for me cried out for a Bordeaux red (which of course we wouldn’t have ordered anyway, we could do with a change from time to time) but we couldn’t breakaway entirely from the style and needed our Cabernet Sauvignon fix. As I had recently returned from a wine trip to South Africa we ordered a glass of Journey’s End Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 from Stellenbosch, which we were told we would love as it was just like a Burgundy, where they grow not a single Cabernet Sauvignon vine!
The wine was fine, with a ripe black fruit juiciness and oaky edge but I was unable to finish my glass. There were two reasons for this; firstly, it lacked a little bit of acidity or lift and after a while it felt a tad overtly fruity and struggled with the food. Secondly, we had been given 250ml glasses which we didn’t ask for. To be fair, we didn’t request the small size either but weren’t asked which we wanted so they erred on the wrong side of caution.
The food was delicious. My slow braised pork cheek with apricots, lentils, sage and mash was so good it prompted me to attempt to cook something similar at home. Wendy, too, was pleased with her dish, particularly to have proper English sausages which she can’t get in France. The salad we ordered never arrived.
We lingered so long over our coffees that top ups were forthcoming not to mention an extra plate of deliciously salty truffles, neither of which, very generously, were included on the bill.
Hotel La Tour has much to recommend it; the décor is contemporary and appealing, the food is definitely worth a return visit, the service was friendly and helpful and the issues of things being ordered but not being served or our coats hanging on the back of our chairs throughout our meal didn’t bother us that day. The wine list is modern, manageable and acceptably priced and we forgave it its lack of claret.