What? French and Scandinavian crossover menu with live music thrown into the deal
New? Ish, Aster opened in January but they are now launching their new dinner, cocktails and live music nights dubbed Aster Live.
Where? In Aster’s downstairs brasserie at 150 Victoria Street, Victoria, SW1E 5LB www.aster-restaurant.com
On the Menu: The menu is a rather unique blend of Scandie and French foods, created by Executive Chef Helena Puolakka. Puolakka brings her Finnish herritage and French training to bear in a combination that, in our opinion, sometimes surprises but often delights.
The Look: Aster is set within the Nova Victoria building, that giant white iceberg that’s bobbed up just by Victoria Station. The day we visited the ediface had won The Carbuncle Cup, making Nova the nation’s official most ugly buidling. Inside, though, it’s a different story.
The Brasserie downstairs is stylish and fun with copper fixtures and marble surfaces chanelling a Parisian chic that references Puolakka’s time in the French capital. The normal buzz of the cafe and bar was only heightened by the band in the corner who were pumping out such convincing covers we thought we were listening to the radio!
What We Ate: The menu for Aster Live offers a limited but delicious choice of starter, including woodland mushroom soup, tomato salad or black pudding pork rolls. I went for the black pudding, obviously, and was very happy with the delicate parcels of pig blood wrapped in pastry. Each slice is served with a dollop of aquavit mustard which juxtaposes nicely with the smooth flavour in the pudding.
Given my main reference point for Scandinavian cooking is the meatballs, mash, gravy and lingonberry jam served in the Ikea cafe it seemed a little cliched that of all the Scandinavian dishes to appear on the Aster menu this was exactly what was on offer. However, I’m also the sort of guy who bulk-buys the frozen Swedish meatballs from the Ikea deli to take home, so it was always going to win out over the equally delicious looking grilled sea bream alternative. And I’m so glad that it did as it was delectable. The veal meatballs were soft and perfectly presented, nestled within a doughnut of unbeatable mash potato. The lingonberry jam, meanwhile, was the ideal flavour compliment, a tiny hint of ‘zing’ but in no way overpowering.
A pudding of ‘sweet nibbles’ turned out to be a selection of meringue bites served in canape form.
What We Drank: We drank the house prosecco, a non-too-expensive option that started the evening off well, while the red and white house wines were entirely pleasant numbers without distracting from the food. We have to offer special praise for the non-alcoholic No Way cocktail, as vivid as it was tasty.
Go With: There’s nothing stuffy or formal about Aster so it would be perfect for a group of work colleagues or mates, live-music lovers and anybody after a fun evening.
Final Word: Knocks the Ikea restaurant out of the park with a Billy bookcase!
Like This? Try These: Five of the best Scandinavian restaurants
Aster Restaurant, Victoria: 150 Victoria Street, Victoria, SW1E 5LB