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Vada Magazine heads to the new bar and restaurant TH@51 at the luxury 5-star Taj Hotel in St James, London, to try their spin on global food and experiential cocktail menus.
TH@51 bar and restaurant
The Taj hotel is a luxury 5 star hotel located in central London, and in early 2022 has opened their newest bar restaurant offering, TH@51. With the entrance just off to the right-hand-side after entering the hotel lobby, guests are greeted and enter first into the bar area where they can choose to sit in a booth and sip on a cocktail from a new menu with drinks aligning to one of 6 ‘biomes’. We found service in the bar impeccable with staff being friendly, efficient, and very knowledgeable about the drinks menu.
Moving forward into the venue, the restaurant brings the outside in with a curved conservatory allowing guests to see the sky turning to dusk as they dine within the calm enclave that is the Taj Hotel courtyard. Don’t forget to take a moment to admire some of the unique architectural design features on this building. The colour palate throughout the hotel is light, with soft, complementary pink and teal hues throughout the interior decor.
We opted to have a pre-dinner aperitif in the form of two cocktails from the biomes menu. This offers 6 biomes (ecosystem areas like mountain, dessert etc.) with ingredients chosen from that ecosystem. We chose:
- a Breath of Fresh Air (£15.50) from the mountain biome, made with Ginepraio, pine cordial, Swiss herbs, gentian & juniper, and elderflower cider. Thankfully this did not invoke any memories or pine furniture of pine-scented cleaning products, rather refreshed and cleared the palate, taking us back to memories of Alpine hiking.
- a Shay Al-Wahah (£17) from the desert biome, made with Zacapa 23 rum, mint tea, karkade (hibiscus), Moroccan lemon, vegetal milk, date and honey. This was an altogether unique experience, with the cocktail being a translucent nectar colour but having a definite milky flavour. A cocktail to try for those seeking flavours from the Middle East.
The food menu at TH@51 is design to combine flavour pairings from different cuisines across each dish. For example, we chose the Desi scotch egg (£15) made with crispy Mumbai spiced lamb mince wrapped around egg, served with curried mayo and mango chutney, demonstrating a flavour pairing between Indian and Britain. We enjoyed this playful starter, though the meat was particularly crumbly. Our other starter of choice was the salt and pepper squid (£18) i.e. tempura squid served with child & green peppers – simple, surprisingly unpretentious but a touch overpriced.
For main courses we again chose an option from the signature menu, the Hoisin duck Italia (£26), which is a Hoisin confit duck leg served rigatoni pasta with creamy miso sauce, shiitake mushrooms and Parmesan. At first glance this cleanly executed plate seemed too simple, but the umami, creamy pasta blended so well with the tender duck meat. Our other main course was grass fed ribeye (£35) served with truffle wedge potatoes, with our sauce of choice being chimichurri. The meat was cooked exactly as requested, and the succulent chips could not be resisted, though we didn’t pick up any of the truffle flavour from them.
To accompany our meal, we drank a bottle of organic red wine, Veramonte Carmenere (£51). The succinct wine menu offers a selection of bottles from all regions, and this being a restaurant in a hotel brand of Indian origin, there is of course Kingfisher beer also available.
We mustered the stomach space for dessert (each priced at £10) and chose the Masala Tea Creme Brûlée served with milk foam and spiced cashew biscotti, and Chocolate cheesecake mochi served with salted caramel ice cream. Both surprised, delighted and impressed, so from our experience the dessert menu transverses the gap between the global main course menu and the experiential new bar menu.
At Vada, we are very appreciative a creative and intoxicating bar menu – this first cocktail menu at TH@51 centred around different ecosystems makes for a creative and pleasurable experience, one that has made it to our shortlist of favourites across London. For the cocktails, we will be back.
The food menu does a good job at bringing together flavour combinations but somehow lacks some of the flair in presentation that is so apparent at the TH@51 bar. That said, the food was cooked perfectly and brought all the flavour. Expect to pay at least £50 per person for food alone, plus wine and service.
Service is clearly an important element at Taj, and we found staff knowledgable, friendly and efficient, with the addition of the duty manager doing the rounds to ensure all guests were enjoying their dining experience. TH@51 would make a great location for a luxury but understated date night.
TH@51 is located at Taj hotel, 51 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6AF
For more information and to book, visit taj51buckinghamgate.co.uk.