Story & photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling GourmetTM
Food photos are of real food with no photoshop
MULTI-FACETED ANDAZ Hotel next to bustling Liverpool Street station. This luxury boutique hotel is under the Hyatt brand, and used to be the Great Eastern Hotel years ago. The Great Eastern Hotel has a rich architectural history. Designed by Sir Charles Barry and his son Charles Edward Barry of the great 19th Century British architectural dynasty. Dating from 1884, its magnificent red brick facade and proportions on all three external elevations, made it for many years pre-eminent among London’s elegant railway hotels. Its many classic interior features include marble staircases, marble floors, fine plasterwork and mouldings plus many elegant public rooms. The location is ideal and just a two minute walk to Liverpool Street station, from where you can go anywhere in London by the “Tube” or London Underground trains. Every morning I would wake up at 07:00 and go to the Gym to work out. The 24 hour Andaz Gym is well equipped with treadmills, ski machines, exercise balls, chin-up bars and weights. I especially liked the full size leather punching bag! Perfect for some intense Krav Maga practice. Then I would jog all around the area to Spitalfields Market and the building know fondly as “The Gherkin”. For sightseeing, the Royal Exchange, Tower of London and iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral are all nearby. On one early morning run, I paused to admire the celebrated shocking-red and blue LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana right at the corner of 99 Bishopsgate. This was the site of the IRA bomb in 1993. A sculpture celebrating Love at the site of a hateful terrorist bombing…Truly, one of life’s little ironies.
The Andaz boasts barrier free check-in with pretty young ladies called ‘hosts’ doing all the necessary for you with their laptop computers. The suites and rooms are very well appointed, extremely comfortable and most tastefully decorated. All the drinks, juices and snacks in the mini bar are complimentary except for the alcoholic beverages like beer. I really liked the bittersweet Meantime London Lager born and brewed in London with Kentish hops (4.5 % alcohol), and the Munchy Seeds Chilli Bites comprising crunchy roasted slightly sweet apricot kernels, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
Beautiful British Breakfast!
Breakfast buffet in “1901” Restaurant which used to be the ballroom of what was the Great Eastern Hotel, is simply divine. Cereal, fresh fruits like pineapple, melon, fresh fruit juices like mango, grapefruit and healthy carrot, Proscuitto di Parma, Honey Baked Ham, Salami, Cumberland Sausages, Baked Beans, grilled tomato, sauteed mushrooms, Bacon rashers of the REAL kind, not Turkey “Bacon” and lots more…I can’t get enough of the Cheese selection featuring cheeses from the United Kingdom and Ireland. The yoghurt is simply ‘superbe’! From Northiam Dairy in Rye, East Sussex, I love the Fruits of the Forest yoghurt or as they say in Italy “Fruitti di Bosco”…so very creamy with a sleek velvety texture and alive with all the good bacteria for your digestion.
Mysterious Masonic Temple…and 1901 Restaurant
I felt like I was in the movie “The Da Vinci Code” when I experienced the mystique of a secret Masonic Temple, only discovered during extensive refurbishment of what used to be the prestigious Great Eastern Railway Hotel. It was sealed off by a false wall but has now been restored. I went for a tour and saw it in all its eerie splendour with my friend, Head Chef Hameed Farook. Dynamic Chef Hameed helms the 1901 Restaurant here in this luxurious boutique hotel which is a luxury boutique brand of the Hyatt Group. Fine Contemporary British cuisine with French influences is served here. The food, wines and…the Cheeses, all from England for the most part is absolutely outstanding!
Frankly, Afficionados of haute cuisine will love Restaurant 1901 which has a most unique ambience. It was the Grand Ballroom of the Great Eastern Railway Hotel and the high ceiling with an exquisite stained glass cupola is really splendid. It reminded me of the inside of a parachute and brought back memories of my parachuting days. Foodwise, all the ingredients are sustainable and from England, but some ingredients are from Scotland, Wales and Ireland, for example the lamb is from Wales.
Before Dinner, you must try an aperitif from the unique Island Bar. The bar is alike an island oasis right in the center of the restaurant. I recommend Jack’s Martini, named after bloodthirsty Jack The Ripper, the notorious murderer who terrorised this area of the East End of London in days of yore (circa 1888). Eccentric Hendrick’s Gin, subtle Elderflower Cordial, Cucumber and Lemon combine effortlessly to give you a cocktail that packs a wallop!
Creative Chef Hameed, 31, serves seasonal dishes that are fresh, tasty and with all their intrinsic flavours intact, but enhanced.
Sweeties to rob the Bank of England for include traditional Bread & Butter Pudding with lots of butter and raisins, Salted Toffee Popcorn Ice Cream foamed with Butterscotch and Caramel Crisps. Try too Apple Fritters and Deconstructed Banofee Pie which is quite unusual…Banoffee is an acronym for Banana & Toffee and here you’ll savour all the different ingredients presented separately.
After sweet dessert treats, in true British style, you must try some of the cheeses. The selection of British cheeses is simply stunning, a cheese connoisseur’s dream come true The captivating cheeses include:
Innes Log from Staffordshire, an unpasteurised, powerful tangy, yet nutty goat cheese.
Dorstone from Herefordshire, a crumbly, savoury, unpasteurised goat cheese with vegetable nuances.
Berkswell from the West Midlands. This hard cheese is made from unpasteurised Ewe milk with sweet citrus notes.
From Cornwall, Yarg cheese from pasteurised cow’s milk, rich and creamy.
Ticklemore from Devon, a pasteurised floral and herbal goat cheese.
Spenwood cheese, a Berkshire product from unpasteurised ewe milk. A hard cheese that is unexpectedly velvety on the palate.
St. Jude made from unpasteurised cow’s milk that is savoury and yeasty.
A cheddar from Somerset called Montgomery from unpasteurised cow’s milk with fruity nuances.
A runny unpasteurised cow’s milk cheese from Hampshire called Tunworth.
Milleens Dork soft cheese from Cork, Ireland made from pasteurised cow’s milk with mushroom flavours.
From Tipperary in Ireland, Crozier Blue, pasteurised ewe’s milk cheese tasting of roasted nuts.
A sharp blue cheese from Nottinghamshire called Shropshire Blue.
Also from Nottinghamshire, a buttery and crumbly Colston Basset Stilton from pasteurised cow’s milk.
Ardrahan from Cork in Ireland. Earthy, pungent and smoky made from pasteurised cow’s milk.
Coolea from Cork in Ireland, crafted from pasteurised cow’s milk with honey and butterscotch nuances.
Semi-hard nutty St. Gall from Strawhall in Ireland from cow’s milk.
You are really spoilt for choice!
Restaurant 1901 is AWARDED THE TRAVELLING GOURMET”S BEST SELECTION OF CHEESES FROM UK 2013/2014 in a London restaurant!
Andaz Liverpool Street
40 Liverpool Street London
England EC2M 7QN
0044 207 618 7123
To be continued…