Euston House, 81-103 Euston St, London NW12EZ www.thewesley.co.uk
Nick finds Savannah less a’grass based ecosystem’ and more a brave little hotel restaurant in a backwater of Euston.
When I was a lad you didn’t really wander about the streets around Kings Cross or Euston stations. Grubby hotels, made from once respectable Georgian middle class houses, stood gloomily in ranks and there was nearly always a drunk Scotsman on every corner belligerently waving a can of McEwan’s and unable to detach himself from the umbilical cord of the train line that ran all the way back to dear old Glasgow.
Of course things have changed a lot. Many of the hotels are still there; still looking like punched faces, but the area has in general brightened up and cleaned up. And Savannah, the restaurant at The Wesley, is a gust of fresh air.
Recently refurbished it’s gone for the whimsy of quotations written on the walls, but done it with taste and also has lightbox screens dotted about and rather nice sculptural details. The downstairs bar serves a good range of what I suppose we are still calling’craft’ beers and has a none too shabby cocktail list as well
It’s a very eco-friendly restaurant- a’bird’ sculpture is made of recycled shopping trolleys and most of the furniture is made from recycled material too with the bar using reclaimed wood. The Savannah also cultivates emerging creativity with the work of upcoming animators, filmmakers and artists projected on its walls.
I liked the bar with its still lingering aroma of freshly sawn (reclaimed) wood as well as the cheerful bartender and after a bottle of Double Hop Monster IPA (because us hipsters can never have enough hops) and some quite superb hunky Gordal (Fat or Queen olives) stuffed with orange pieces, climbed the steep stairs to the restaurant over the bar.
This is a long and narrow room and gets good light from skylights with a feel that feels right. Waiters are bringing the food out on trays, a fine dining conceit but also here a practical one as the food has to be carried up those stairs.
The menu is, as is to be expected from a restaurant serving a hotel, a bit hard to pin down geographically but at least avoids the cardinal sin of putting on pizzas alongside sashimi as so many seem to do. It will change seasonally apparently, which is good as hotel menus rarely change at all.
Rock Oysters poached with pickled cucumbers, beurre blanc and lump fish caviar I rather liked; proper plump oysters that worked well with the pickles and against the salty fishiness of the caviar. I wasn’t so convinced of the beurre blanc that seemed mostly to be melted butter and overpowering so I poured it off.
A main of prawn tempura, spicy tomato fondue, shiitake mushrooms, mango purÃƒÂ©e served on a banana leaf was potentially straying a bit into dodgy hotel food territory, if not a pile up on the M1, but actually turned out to be much better than I suspected it would be. The batter was light, freshly fried, and while the mushroom was an unusual thing to find on a banana leaf, I doubt they would ever meet up socially, actually worked
So far so really pretty good really and my sea bass’en papillotte’ – a parcel of paper enclosing the fish, bok choy, lemon grass, red chillies and baby corn, was also fine. I don’t tend to go for steamed fish as a rule, I like mine fried and with a crispy skin, but this I felt would be healthier.
The fish was of course limp as an actor’s handshake, but not soggy, and there was crispness to the corn. The metallic tang of the bok choy always works with Asian spiced fish and for once I didn’t find myself chewing on the lemon grass. So many places leave the outer skin on, which is fine if the whole stalk is used as you can take the whole thing out, but when chopped up it results in inedible pieces that irritate.
L had the Monkfish wrapped in Parma ham with couscous salad, agen plums and red wine jus. Agen plums being what Agen prunes are before they dessicate, very deep flavours against the jus and the ham not leathery as can happen easily when it’s overcooked even a small amount.
For pud, Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse and Basil Panna Cotta. The panna cotta suitably wobbly and the mousse most unctuous with the slight pepperiness of the olive oil adding a note of savoury against the sweet.
Service was smart and not overbearing and the overall feel was not of hotel dining but of a smart unpretentious modern restaurant aiming to please customers not overawe them. Tucked away from the street it’s easy to walk past Savannah, but it’s well worth going in.