There’s four posts this week – bonus! – because there’s too much I want to write about so I’m going to make time to squeeze it all in…
In the early morning hours after our wedding the last weekend of June, we hailed a cab and hopped in for a five minute ride, the filthy hem of my dress gathered in my lap. It had been an incredible day with our friends and family who made the journey to London to help us celebrate and we were exhausted.
The decision to book a few nights at The Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington was an excellent idea, especially considering we will wait until October for honeymoon.
We loved the quirky decor in The Drawing Rooms inside the hotel (where we’ve been twice for afternoon tea) and love to support the small luxury hotels when we travel.
I won’t tell you about the hotel itself, but I will tell you about Apero, the intimate restaurant that’s tucked away in the basement. The first time we walked in, the staff were humming “Here’s Comes the Bride”. We ate there twice, once for brunch when I chose scrumptious scrambled eggs, toasted sourdough bread and smoked salmon and once for dinner.
The atmosphere was pretty laid back, as is the decor with the soft blue leather seats, the exposed white brick and along the first area and spanish tiles on part of the floor.
Chef Chris Golding gets creative with their menu, combining some flavours I’ve never tried together and really enjoyed. Dinner is served tapas style so we chose a few dishes each and shared everything. It was the first time I ate a flower.
First, the wine and cocktail arrived. The cocktail has a really fun design and is interesting to read if you have time as it mentions the artistic influence behind each concoction, but it’s not so straightforward to decide on a drink at a quick glance. I had ordered a Minnie Cunningham, a delicious mix of Portobello gin, Byrrh and raspberry sour with a rosemary-stuffed raspberry straddling the rim. It was teeny tiny for the £8.50 it cost or I probably would have ordered a second.
As for food, we started with Cerignola Olives which are enormous. It’s hard to put the whole olive in your mouth and bite around the pit, so I ended up holding both ends and gnawing my way around the middle. This photo does not do them justice.
Next, we were served two thick, fresh pieces of tomato bread with a glorious salmorejo sauce.
Salad came out next, a bowl of gem lettuce, asparagus and French bean salad with truffled formagella.
Then, wrapped up to stay warm, octopus baked with tomatoes, olives and courgette flowers.
Next was the dish that wins for presentation: Iberico pork cheeks, cherries, celeriac and artichoke.
We generally make a point of rarely skipping dessert, even if we’re stuffed and it means sharing one (which was the case this time). We ordered another pretty dish to finish our meal: Sicilian lemon curd with hazelnut crumble and meringue. Wouldn’t mind a bit right now, actually.
Likes: The food (most important) was excellent, from presentation to taste and creative combinations of flavours. Service was quick and staff were friendly. Decor was interesting. We’d go back.
Dislikes: The cocktail I ordered was tiny considering the price and bottles of water were £3.50 (but ‘free’ from the mini bar in the room). Not much else really.
The Verdict: Thumbs up, Apero! We’ll be back for food for sure and definitely recommend it, but will probably skip the overpriced cocktails (even though they are tasty).