Guest post by Raphael KH
Very little gets me out of bed on a Sunday morning. Even less so when I have to iron a shirt and trousers. Brunch at The Langham is one of those events for which I make an exception.
Invited to attend a trunk sale and brunch on the weekend of London Fashion Week, I presented myself along with other bloggers at 11.30am. In the Portillion Room a number of handbags were displayed like jewels on plinths. I have never had need of a handbag, but no doubt these Asprey items were the bee’s knees. The canapés were great – tiny blinis with smoked eel, steak tartare on chips and my all-time favourite cheese, Comté done up in a croquette.
Just off the Portillion Room is the vaulted wine corridor which leads into the Roux at The Landau restaurant. A dark space illuminated only by the backlighting in the glass wine cupboards in which, displayed on shelves, were a selection of fine wines that those who carry those Asprey handbags may drink from time to time. Remember those heady days before the crash when bankers ran up a silly bill drinking Petrus in a restaurant? Well, this collection’s most expensive bottle is the Petrus 1982. The restaurant’s sommelier – an extremely friendly man – regaled us with stories about the collection and told us that the last bottle of Petrus was bought in October 2016. Apparently, a guest at the hotel, dining alone, bought a bottle at lunch and returned at dinner to finish it. That’s the life.
Around noon we took our seats in The Landau for the Roux Farmhouse Brunch where a tempting buffet was set out containing a range of starters and desserts. We were presented with a menu and made our selection from the a la carte selection for the main course. In the meantime we got started on those starters. What a choice!
There was an excellent selection of meat, fish and vegetarian. My favourite was a ham and cheese pie, the ham and cheese set in layers. While the pastry baked the cheese melted – imagine the best ham and cheese toastie in a pastry! Michel Roux has a recipe for this dish on the internet and it is graded Easy. The easiest way to enjoy it is to have it at Roux at The Landau.
Aside from this delicious dish I also enjoyed the Jambon persillé which was a ham terrine in a parsley flavoured gelée. It was cut into attractive squares and wonderfully meaty.
The smoked salmon was probably the best I’ve eaten. Not only did the whisky cure give the fish a fabulous flavour but it was cut into thick slices rather than the very thin, horizontal slices of smoked salmon that so often grace brunch tables.
I gave the oysters a miss not being too keen on these.
The vegetarian salads were good too – salt baked beetroot and watercress, black quinoa with capers and hazelnuts, and leek vinaigrette with pickled shallot. Bearing in mind that this selection was just the starter buffet, I did not even make it to the cheese trolley alongside.
Only later did I discover a huge basket brimming with breakfast pastries.
By then I was so full that another morsel was impossible to consider.
I love the combination of avo and egg – my favourite snack being toasted sourdough topped with mashed avo a poached egg – so for the main course I had to try Lobster and avocado egg benedict with hollandaise sauce. In fact, most of the guests at our table ordered the same.
It was tasty but the lobster was rather overshadowed by all the other ingredients. With a theatrical flourish, a trolley was wheeled round to the table holding a sliver domed dish. It was lifted to reveal an impressive spit roast pork rack. Clearly I need to go back for a second visit.
The desserts were the highlight of the meal. Not just because I love dessert but because these were fab-u-lous.
The blood orange meringue pie was probably my favourite if I have to choose one above all the others. The tarte tatin was deliciously sweet and fruity with a good dollop of Normandy crème fraiche to balance the flavours. I was dazzled by the enormous glass trifle dish filled with a rhubarb trifle. By contrast, the crème caramel was served in a dinky dish for individual portions. I loved the choux pastry filled with Ecuadorian chocolate – light as air.
There were also orange flavoured financiers, a flan with Armagnac prunes, a platter of fresh fruit and more. More than enough choice left to come back for dinner. With a bottle of Petrus perhaps!
Albert Roux Champagne, Grand Cru, Blanc de Blanc flowed throughout the afternoon, the staff were attentive yet discreet, the live guitarist entertaining but unintrusive, the ambience relaxed and convivial. It really was a treat.
Roux Farmhouse Brunch is served on Sundays at £49 with tea and coffee, £75 with Bloody Marys or Crémant de Bourgogne, or £90 with free flowing Albert Roux Champagne.