What: The Mondrian Hotel, Southbank, is quite the treasure trove and we sure got an opportunity to delve in during our visit. Sauntering in on a Tuesday evening, our first stop was the Dandelyan Botanical Suite, housed inside the hotel. We tried a mix of cocktails in the exquisite jungle looking room, one of which featured (and I kid you not) ingredients taken from black ants and zebra tarantulas. I wish I could say I despised the taste, but they were weirdly delicious.
But, I digress, the point of our visit post creepy crawly cocktails, was to dine at Sea Containers, the Mondrian’s nautical restaurant.
The Setting: The Mondrian is quite the eye-catcher, and most definitely a building worthy of a wolf-whistle. It’s glamorous, ideally located on the banks of the River Thames and the sleek interior made me feel unapologetically, shaken not stirred James Bond cool.
The Look: Sea Containers is inspired by the Golden Age of transatlantic travel – did I get this vibe walking in? A little, however I wasn’t struck by anything particularly nautical, more just plush rounded mustard sofas, intimate lighting and woody tones.
This isn’t to say I didn’t like it, in fact I found it quite cosy – kudos to Tom Dixon’s design and vision – with that busy city vibe I lust for during a dining experience. However, the eclectic interior was a bit like a bag of pic ‘n mix, no clear theme and, without the influence of the name to suggest a concept, I wouldn’t have known transatlantic travel was at the helm.
What did aid the theme however, was our riverside table, with views of the Thames and the glisten of a city-by-night. It was rather special.
On the Menu: The menu champions seasonal produce, from the field, the sea and the land, and they try to source ethically and sustainably. That’s a thumbs up from us! I had to ask about the menu as I was a little unsure how it worked. So, here’s the inside scoop:
There are three sections, ‘from the field’, ‘from the sea’, ‘from the land’, oh, and sides! Essentially, it’s a bit of a free-for-all. Just select what’s taking your fancy or ask your waiter to throw in a suggestion or two – we did, and he didn’t disappoint.
What We Ate: As fish is the food of the moment at Sea Containers, we wanted to stick to some fishy dishes. Luckily, both my partner and I are seafood fanatics, and those types of people that give everything a whirl (we’d just had a tarantula cocktail after all). So, we started off with two seasonal oysters with sherry vinaigrette, yoghurt, charred apple and amaretto. I’ve personally never had apple with an oyster but I loved it. The sweet apple taste mixed with the salty oyster flavour was unique.
Next, we shared the ceviche tacos – I normally prefer meat with my tacos but I liked these just as much. The tacos come with seabass, seabream and coriander salsa. The salsa really adds a much-needed kick. I feel they would be a little bland without it.
For the main? We unapologetically side stepped back to meat. Forgive us, but the whole roast chicken for two, with confit onions turned our heads. Who knew oysters are an aphrodisiac for the desire to eat chicken and onions? The chicken was just delicious. Flavoursome, with taste contrasts with sweet onion and salty skinned chicken. The mash and thyme from the sides too is making me ask myself if it would be acceptable to make mash for breakfast right now… Problem is, mine would be made from Smash, not the creamy concoction Sea Containers provide. Just delicious.
For the finale, I was absolutely full to the brim and I’d certainly indulged after multiple cocktails, swigs of wine and a whole host of food. However, my greedy side prevailed and what do you know? A plate of caramelised bananas with caramel fudge ice cream was on the table. Not for long though as my partner and his insatiable appetite devoured the gooey goodness. From my small spoonful though I can affirm it was delicious, and so sweet that I’m sticking to savoury for the foreseeable.
What We Drank: We had a bottle of Gavi Di Gavi La Minaia, because my partner made me choose and I just punted for a wine I vaguely recognised. Our waiter suggested the wine would be a good pair with the dishes we ordered. He wasn’t wrong! It’s a dry white with a freshness that we discovered matches white fish very well, most notably with our ceviche tacos.
The drinks list is bountiful –there’s a range of spirits for those who like something a little stronger, including a long list of tequilas. The bar sits centre-piece snug, so unless you’ve had one too many, it’s hard to miss.
Go With: Taking someone who is visiting the city would be a great idea – sight-seeing coupled with a sumptuous dining experience? Now that’s killing two birds (or fish, rather) with one stone.
Where: Sea Containers, 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, SE1 9PD, www.themondrian.com
Final Word: I truly enjoyed the experience here. Mostly because the whole vibe of the Mondrian has got that glam you sometimes lust for in a dining experience.