In 1967 London Bridge was sold to an American named Robers P. McChulloc for a new ‘English’ theme park in Arizona, soon to be the second most popular attraction in the state, behind Niagara Falls. Popular myth, albeit a particularly snobbish myth, goes that the American thought he was buying Tower Bridge and was hugely disappointed when the less iconic London Bridge turned up. That myth has since been debunked, but its credence comes from the fact that there are fewer things more iconic or impressive than Tower Bridge – why wouldn’t you want it in your English theme park?
It is next to this magnificent structure that The Tower Hotel is located and within this, The Brasserie. I spent 3 years living in Wapping so I was well aware of this building, although unfortunately in all that time I never took the time to step inside. What a shame that I’ve only just discovered this place.
My girlfriend and I were shown to a window seat upon our arrival and sat for a couple of minutes soaking in the beautiful view of the bridge. It was an effort to drag ourselves to the menu but we managed it, during which a couple of glasses of champagne turned up to help our choice.
We started with grilled octopus, the scallops with chorizo and slow-cooked pork belly. I know that sounds like a hefty amount of food to start with, and we definitely weren’t hungry by the end of the meal, but every bite went down with ease, testament to how good each was. The octopus in particular, served with a light cucumber and tomato salad, was excellent; the charred and smoky tentacles with the fruity salad is a brilliant combination.
For our main course we had the duo of Cornish lamb and the sea bass with gnocchi. Now this is where my job here becomes particularly hard. I’d just finished pretending to be vegan for a month and so the lamb tasted like a little bit of heaven in my mouth. However, I could have eaten the sea bass three times over. The tomato juice that the gnocchi swam in was zingy and the skin on the sea bass was crispy, making a load of textures and flavours that are really special.
At this stage we were definitely feeling the impact of scoffing 3 starters at the beginning of the meal. We soldiered on however and tackled the lemon tart which was delicious and the classic that is Eton mess. It’s always a good idea going for a classic dish like Eton mess when trying to get the measure of a place – there is no hiding in familiar places. The Brasserie doesn’t disappoint. I’d forgotten all about the 3 starters as soon as the first spoonful entered my mouth and happily chewed the rest down at a world record speed.
Wapping is a great place to visit. A pub down the road has an old noose by the side of the Thames used as the final punishment for captured pirates. St Katherine Docks is a great example of old London turned brand new. But it has to be Tower Bridge that steals the show and it’ll be difficult to find somewhere better to enjoy it than The Brasserie restaurant.
The Brasserie at the Tower Hotel
St. Katharines Way, London, E1W 1LD