We at Bookatable are lucky enough to be situated just down the road from some of London’s greatest landmarks; the London Eye, Big Ben, and the sights and sounds of the bustling Southbank. And just a small stumble from our HQ, you will also find the chic Park Plaza Hotel, home to the AA Rosette-awarded restaurant, Brasserie Joel.
Entering the hotel for our meal on a Friday night, it was busy with people heading out into London from their rooms, others arriving for having drinks at the popular bar, and of course fellow restaurant-goers. We headed up the escalators, past the bar (well done us) and into the French restaurant, where we were warmly welcomed by the hostess. The restaurant is impressively lit by a glowing red wall stacked with wine bottles, and low hanging lamps over each table, creating an intimate atmosphere.
We started our meal with a sparkling cocktail, while we browsed the menu. There are truly so many delicious traditional French dishes on the menu, it is a real difficulty trying to choose without the fear of food envy taking over. I’d even checked out the menu during the day and hadn’t managed to narrow down my choices to less than 4 per course! After an extended amount of time (thanks to our waiter for being incredibly patient), we happily settled on our selections for the evening. To start, we went for comforting dishes of a baked camembert and French onion soup.
I always think baked camembert can be a risky starter, because it can mean you load up on rich, gooey cheese and have no room left for anything else! I suppose some people might have a little more restraint when it comes to portion control. But Brasserie Joel have got it just right, serving up a perfectly formed mini camembert for one, which provides all the warm, rich happiness without the problem of early over-indulgence.
The French onion soup was served in a traditional bowl, topped with stringy cheese and soup-soaked bread. It was not too heavy a dish for a starter, and having been to Paris very recently, I can also say it was absolutely on point when compared with the version I had there.
For our first main course, we chose slow-cooked Iberico pork cheeks, with smooth pomme purée, sweet roast apples and red wine sauce. The rich and succulent pork could be pulled apart with just a fork, and was complemented by its traditional apple partner. This was a plate of brilliantly cooked food.
Next up on our tour of French cuisine, was a Black Angus beef onglet steak. You know how it is…sometimes you just crave a good steak dinner, and this is precisely what you can expect from this dish. Cooked exactly as requested, and served sliced with fries and a red wine sauce, this dish completely hit the carnivorous spot.
Dessert was next on the list, and for this course we opted for a choux a la crème and a carrot cake – both light enough to end our indulgent cheesy and meaty meal. The Choux a la crème (profiterole), came piled with hazelnut ice cream, Chantilly cream, and a pot of chocolate sauce. A great combination of flavours: light choux pastry, and cold ice cream vs hot chocolate sauce all made for a big thumbs up for this dessert.
The carrot cake may not sound like the lightest dish on a dessert menu, but the lovely moist cake was freshened with a basil sorbet – a combination of flavours reminiscent of a vegetable patch and yet a perfect sweet dish.
The food and service at Brasserie Joel were both fantastic. If you want to experience some top French cuisine close to some big London landmarks, then this is definitely a restaurant that will fulfil that desire for you.
Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge, London, SE1 7UT