New? The InterContinental London O2 opened its (revolving) doors in November last year, so five months on we went along to see how things are going.
Where? 1 Waterview Drive, Greenwich Peninsula, SE10 0TW www.iclondon-theo2.com
First Impressions: Leaving the crowds walking towards the stadium, it’s a further five minutes or so until you get to the hotel. Given our rainy walk, you’d feel right at home pulling up in a blacked out UberLuxe. Vast was the word that kept springing to mind – the revolving doors: vast, the lobby and high ceilings: vast, the number of doors and corridors: vast. Our destination for the evening was The Market Brasserie, one of the five in-house bars and restaurants, the all-day dining destination has unbeatable views of the City from the floor to ceiling windows and our welcome was professional and polished – the result of international hospitality-style training.
The Look: The Market Brasserie has been designed with no expenses spared. Whilst the dimmed lighting and candles made it dinner-appropriate, you can absolutely imagine the buffet counter by the kitchen set up with never-ending plates of pastries, eggs and toast for breakfast. Highly polished floor tiles, marble counters at the open kitchen and mustard, teal and navy chairs give the space a contemporary – if ‘hotelly’ – feel.
On The Menu: A really sensitive menu aims to bring a local and seasonal touch to the global hotel chain. The menu was extensive and the waiter was useful in guiding us through; a trolley with fresh fish (‘from the sea’) and meat (‘from the land’) mean you can tailor your meal exactly how you like it. Fancy a 230g rib-eye steak with a red wine jus? A 150g fillet steak with béarnaise? Your wish is their command.
What We Ate: Long deliberation resulted in one main from the ‘trolley’ menu and one from the standard mains list – pan fried sea bream (a bestseller) for me and fillet steak with black peppercorn sauce for my guest. A delicate portion (the menu said ‘fillets’ but I just had one), the fish was just how I like it, the skin was crisp and accompanied by a well-dressed salad and potato and fennel rosti. The steak was wonderfully rare, with criss-crossed grill marks and grilled cherry tomatoes on the vine. The starters were less remarkable, mainly because my cumin roasted pumpkin and halloumi salad looked almost identical to my guest’s mackarel pate. Both came with the same heaped salad on the same slate plate but were pleasant enough. My dark chocolate and olive oil cake was warm, runny in the middle and not too rich, although a single dollop of creme fraiche would’ve been enough – the whole pot was unneccessary. Two huge slices of lardy cake were raved about by our waiter so we had to try. The sliced banana and salted caramel ice cream made it, but the portion size meant it would’ve been big enough to share!
What We Drank: The waiter who poured our Moet was one of our highlights. More personable than a lot of the staff, he said how proud he was to work there and have been there from the start, when the hotel was nothing more than a muddy building site. Back to drinks – wine accompanied our meal but probably the strongest feature drinks-wise was the tea menu. Taking inspiration from Greenwich Peninsula’s history in the tea trade, my favourite was the milk oolong. Elsewhere in the hotel, The Clipper Bar boasts 34 loose leaf teas from The East India Company. After our meal we popped upstairs to Bar Eighteen which has (as expected) even more impressive views than the restaurant. The yellow masts of the O2 arena are visible behind the well-stocked bar and the moody lighting and cosy armchairs make it a great spot for an intimate late night drink post-concert.
Go With: Whoever you’re sharing your hotel suite with.
Final Word: The Market Brasserie is undoubtedly a hotel restaurant so despite lacking a bit of personality, the food is prepared and sourced with care and consideration to try and give it a more local feel. The views from the restaurant and bar are pretty unbeatable, even on the rainy night we were there.