Taking a quick detour off the heaving Southbank, we headed to the 4-Star Novotel London City South last weekend. But rather than experience their premiere linens, instead we headed to their resident bar/restaurant, the Gourmet Bar, to get a taste of their brand new menu.
The Gourmet Bar & Restaurant finds itself in stylish surroundings. It’s located adjacent to the Novotel’s reception with the hotel’s lounge featuring plush sofas, soft lighting and a whole host of chrome furnishings. Upon arrival, we were welcomed by one of the Gourmet Bar’s extremely accommodating staff and asked if we’d like to have a drink at the bar before sitting down for our meal. Having spent the best part of two hours taking in the sites between South Kensington and London Bridge, nothing could seem more appealing.
The bar is naturally well stocked with an array of beers, wines and modern cocktails on offer, and being located by the hotel’s reception means there’s always activity. Most pleasing from our perspective was the attention to locality. Beers were on offer from some of nearby Bermondsey’s most famed breweries, with brews from Partizan, Anspach & Hobday, and Fourpure all on the menu. There was also a vast range of gins and our friendly tender recommended his favourite.
Then it was time to sit down and eat. We’d say the atmosphere was quiet but pleasant upon entry, with families and travellers grabbing a bite to eat before searching for revelry on the Southbank. Live music started around 7pm and set the tone with some modern classics performed with as much edge as you’d expect from a restaurant musician. That said, the presumably German family next to us were certainly enjoying his takes on Ed Sheeran and George Ezra.
But we digress. Starters. It had been a long day and we wanted some comfort. BBQ chicken Wings with Blue Cheese Sauce for me and some Korean Bao Buns with Shredded Duck and Korean BBQ Sauce for her. The Wings were everything you’d want, falling off the bone and just enough sweet/smokey sauce to taste but not too messy. The blue cheese sauce was, however, maybe a tad strong – even for a cheese connoisseur. The Korean Bao Buns, however, were faultless. Fresh coriander and spring onions kept things fresh, soft pillow buns made things mellow, and succulent duck meant things were indulgent.
For main, Beef Teriyaki with Stir Fry Vegetable and Sesame Seeds, served with Rice, and a classic Spaghetti Carbonara, which our resident Italian waiter Claudio (who was superb throughout the evening) assured us was authentic. He wasn’t wrong. Creamy – though definitely without cream – salty and al dente. The Beef Teriyaki was pleasant and flavourful but not the most memorable.
For dessert, it was all about the classics; Eton Mess then Warm Chocolate Brownie with Jude’s Hampshire Vanilla Ice Cream and crushed Amaretti Biscuits. The Brownie was nutty and rich, while the Eton Mess as always made us feel a little less guilty about the sugar intake.
Overall, service was genuinely impeccable other than a briefly forgotten tap water and while we didn’t get the chance to stay at the Novotel London City South, if the décor in the lounge and foyer are anything to go by, rooms will be designed with some contemporary precision. The Gourmet Bar is well worth booking if you’re staying at the hotel and even worth a visit if you’re after a relaxed cocktail near London Bridge with some live music.
The bar Gourmet Bar & Restaurant at Novotel London City South is open until 12am from Monday to Saturday and until 11.30pm on Sundays. Found at 53-61 Southwark Bridge Road, SE1 9HH, it’s perfectly located to explore the likes of the Shard, the Tate Modern, St. Pauls Cathedral and Borough Market.