Lunching at the Langham Hotel
As much as I do love my little Blackberry and stay loyal to it despite all my evangelistic iPhone friends, sometimes the download speed is soooo slow! Which was why I was late, standing on a corner of Regent’s St. waiting for directions to the Langham Hotel in Central London to download, only to realise that I was standing right in front of it! Oh, Blackberry, sometimes I do contemplate trading you in…..
Happily, I was not the last to arrive for lunch at The Langham with the good folks of Travel Onion. Travel Onion is a website that aims to gather the best of the webs travel blogs in one spot. After looking at their Buenos Aires section, I wish I had known about them when I was there recently. But I digress (I think), I was there as their guest to visit the hotel and have lunch at Roux at the Landau, the hotel restaurant. The others were waiting for me in the hotel bar, The Artesian, so named because there is a 360 ft deep artesian well under the hotel. The decor was a mix of Oriental and modern lounge decadent but also full of light, a great place for an afternoon drink. While we were waiting, I discovered that the Langham Hotel was where the concept of “afternoon tea” was first inaugurated. Turns out that the Duchess of Bedford used to be a regular guest and every afternoon, around 4 she would get a bit peckish and send her maid out to bring a few sandwiches, sweet pastries and a pot of tea to tide her over until dinner. Thus “afternoon tea” was born at the Langham back in 1865. Even today the Langham is still known for it’s tea service (they have over 50 to chose from) having been picked as one of the best of 2011 by the London Tea Guild recently. Seeing as it wasn’t late afternoon, I ordered a Manhattan to kick things off, which was good and strong although the “rocks” I requested turned out to be one really big rock! Interesting….
The Langham has a long and illustrious history. It was the first London “Grand” hotel when it first opened in 1865 and throughout it’s colourful history has been owned by such diverse companies as the BBC and Ladbrokes even. The hotel has recently had an £80 million pound refurbishment and no expense was spared on the luxurious surroundings. From the Artesian bar to the Grand Palm Court, it is de-luxe. Of course, I was loving it. The hotel has also added a Chinese medicine oriented spa, which is situated across the street from the main hotel in an former bank building. They’ve kept the columns and grand spaces of the bank and the pool is in the former bank vault!
After drinks we made our way down a hallway where the walls consisted of rows and rows of wine and settled into out table at Roux. Michel Roux and his son Albert opened the restaurant 4 years ago and their executive chef is Chris King who came from La Gavroche after 10 years of service there. The menu looked fabulous but if you don’t want to order a la carte, they do have a set menu, £45 for 3 courses,a half bottle of wine, mineral water, coffee and petit fours, it looked like a good deal to me.
The wine list was quite interesting as all the wines are either organic or biodynamic. I had a lot of fun picking and choosing wines to go with our meal and our sommelier was very helpful. I chose a biodynamic ’09 Saumer to go with my lobster roll, the chenin blanc a lovely compliment to the sweet lobster. For the main course, I shared a roast duckling with one of my dining companions and after a bit of consulation with the waiter, we paired a bottle of Chambolle Musigny, with the duck. The ’07 premier cru from Ghislaine Barthod, was an intense, spicy Burgundy, with silky tannins, a good campanion to the duck.
Dessert was a deconstructed cheesecake with rhubarb. It was served in a glass and not quite what I was expecting but it was delicious! Even if it didn’t look traditional, the flavours and textures melded together seamlessly. After all that we squeezed in a cheese plate, yes, it was a long and decadent lunch and we didn’t roll out of there until after 4pm but what a lunch — beautiful surroundings, impeccable and helpful service, fantastic food and a thoughtful biodynamic winelist, the Langham seems to have it all. If I were a tourist in London, the Langham would certainly be on my list of places to stay or at the very least, stop in and treat myself to a gourmet meal.