An invitation to dine at the Chef’s table at one of my favourite Birmingham Hotels was the exciting proposition that dropped into my inbox a couple of weeks ago. Hotel LaTour has always offered fabulous fine dining in its Aalto restaurant, but the rebranding of the restaurant as Grill LaTour, with an emphasis on my very favourite food, succulent steak, was something for foodies(and me!) to get very excited about.
A really good steak restaurant has to be one of my favourite places to eat, and when the restaurant is also offering fresh produce, including locally grown fruit and vegetables, I think you have a destination that will be hard to beat. Hotel LaTour has teamed up with innovative project Edible Eastside in order to offer food grown in urban Birmingham, in the Eastside allotment space, as part of the menu. From September, the hotel will also be growing its own produce in its very special roof garden – all very exciting stuff!
With all these developments in mind, the opportunity to sample key dishes on the menu was a very welcome one, so I joined a team of real foodies for the most delightful night of fine dining. We were greeted with a glass of Prosecco that was crisp and refreshing, before making our way to the chef’s table in the main restaurant. The chef’s table offer a full dining experience for 6-8 people, but for tonight we were able to choose a traditional 3 course meal, with specially selected drinks to compliment. All the dishes on offer were from the new Grill menu. Before choosing our dishes, we were introduced to a truly magnificent piece of steak (almost a cow in my humble opinion), the Tomahawk, which was meant for sharing and certainly tempted a few of our party.
For my starter I opted for Chicken Liver Parfait. This was a delicious pate that was served with Pear Chutney and Sour dough crisps. I was unsure about the Pear Chutney when I read it on the menu as I’m not a fan of pears in general (pear cider doesn’t count does it?) but it was really unusual, quite sharp and vinegary, which totally complimented the savoury chicken liver. The sour dough crisp was also good, although I do think a crusty bread would be a good accompaniment to such a generous amount of parfait.
For my main it was always going to be a steak, and as I am a bit Jack Spratt in that department (avoiding fat like the plague), a fillet steak was definitely calling to me. I chose to have mine with Bearnaise sauce, and I honestly couldn’t have asked for any more from this dish. The steak was perfectly done to my taste – medium and pink, but not blood running. It sliced so easily, it was just so soft and tender. I was interested to learn something new about cutting steak – my knife was sharp, but not serrated, as I always thought a steak knife needed to be, but chef explains that a jagged edge just rips and tears the meat. My steak was accompanied by a grilled tomato and crispy shallots, as well as hand cut chips which had been seasoned to perfection. The whole dish was perfectly balanced, traditional, but with lovely twists, like the crunchy shallots, a nice change from the huge onion rings that often spoil this sort of dish. A hearty Malbec was also pretty much the perfect wine to bring out the flavours of the dish.
I was very interested to see what the other diners were trying out. The huge LaTour Tomahawk attracted lots of attention and, I have to say, looked like the ultimate in sharing dishes, with 900g grams of steak, confit potatoes, handcut chips and seasonal vegetables making a real feast of food. The lovely Dave from Brum Hour thoroughly enjoyed the Steak and Brummie Ale Pie which looked enormous and needed a spoon, as well as a knife and fork. I also really liked the look of Hanger Steak Skewer which came with shoestring fries and garlic butter.
Unfortunately, at this point, I had to leave the proceedings. But before leaving I got a very welcome opportunity to enjoy one of my all time favourite cocktails one more time. The 1889 cocktail, so named for the year Birmingham gained city status, is a frothy confection of gin, apple elderflower, ginger and lime….and a touch of CO2. It needs to be drank straight away for the full effect, and is, quite frankly, heaven in a glass.
I enjoyed a wonderful night of dining at Hotel LaTour, and was truly impressed with the quality of the dishes on offer. If you are looking for a great dining experience in Birmingham, Grill LaTour should definitely be on agenda.
*With thanks to Jane Riley and Natalie Murison of Hotel LaTour, and the Ed James Group for the kind invitation.