The Nova Building, 81 Buckingham Palace Rd, Westminster, London SW1W 0AJ www.thestokehouse.com
Every time I venture out of Victoria station, I find myself getting lost for the umpteenth time due to the endless building work in the area. To my surprise, I managed to stumble out of the tube and across the road into the new Nova Complex – exactly where I needed to be.
The block itself is not exactly award-winning, but in terms of eateries and drinking dens there is plenty of choice, from the Franco Manca’s and Shake Shack’s that keep popping up across London, to The Stoke House, a modern British carvery that serves fresh, seasonal produce at affordable prices.
Now, just because I said the word carvery, please don’t be too quick to judge. I know they have a bad reputation, and can often be the butt of a culinary joke, but I have to say that the Stoke House is not your average carvery by any means; in fact provenance is key here.
Only prime cuts of meat are served and there is a strong focus on getting the best British meat available, whether it be chickens from Norfolk, Gloucester Old Spot pork or beef that has been dry aged on the bone for 28 days and grass fed on Bodmin and Dartmoor.
All the meat is smoked and cooked on site, using a blend of woods, which can be seen in the open plan restaurant layout. But, if you’re not a keen meat-eater there are also whole fish options, which can be roasted in the wood fired oven, and offer a healthier balanced meal. With a largely woody interior and copper detailing scattered about the venue, this definitely wasn’t like any carvery I had been to in my youth.
Slightly upmarket to suit its location, the long wavy wall of Beer can art in the main dining room brought it back down to earth and made for a relaxed dining atmosphere. After perusing the menu, I was intrigued by the small plates on offer, and just had to try the Smoked bone marrow. It arrived looking as barbaric as it sounds, but was dressed delicately with pickled shallots and a parsley salad.
It’s definitely worth a try, although I’d recommend ordering something else alongside it as it is indeed very small – The Scottish wood-roasted salmon looked to be a far more generous portion.
For mains, you cannot go wrong with whatever you choose Ã¢â‚¬â€œ unless by some chance you do not eat meat. We went for the roast rump of beef and the slow roasted lamb belly Ã¢â‚¬â€œ both Cornish and extraordinarily tender. We weren’t asked how we’d like the beef cooked, which I actually liked, as when it arrived medium rare Ã¢â‚¬â€œ as it should be, it was a slice of perfection.
We decided to share some sides, and I have to say that the honey roasted carrots and garlic and thyme roasted new potatoes were average and nothing to shout home about. The star of the show however, was the spicy slaw, that had the subtlest of kicks, but when it got you, boy did it pack a punch.
Opting for two red meat dishes for our mains, we decided to try a fruity red Refosco, that went down rather well. Wine at The Stoke House, is not however served in bottles, but from the cask in carafes. If cocktails, or more specifically gin, are your poison though, you’ll be able to make the most of the buy one get one free deal, which is on every day in October from 5-7pm.
When it came to desserts, my inner child smirked when I read the’happy endings’ menu and as a huge lover of cheese, I of course opted for the British cheese board, which did not disappoint, although did not dazzle me either. The chocolate mousse with honeycomb was a much more sizeable portion and reasonably priced for what you actually got.
If you tend to sway more on the carnivorous side, then you will be in for a treat at The Stoke House, but make sure you don’t miss out on your five a day Ã¢â‚¬â€œ as the daily special salad bowls are the secret star of the show.
Photos taken from restaurant website