Aster Restaurant

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Aster-2016-Grand-Cafe-rendering-WEBFor those of you for whom a visit to London comprises, theater, restaurants, hotel comforts and musical events, the newest part of London is the recently and almost completed redevelopment of Victoria. This huge project which has taken years is comprised of towering (not in a NY sense) but in a London way, office blocks made of concrete and steel, incorporating public squares, shopping areas and pleasantly spaced walkways. These new buildings have lifted what was not too long ago a wasted rundown space facing the Old Victoria train terminal. This revitalized area is full of excitement and there are hundreds, even thousands milling around day and night.

These exciting spaces are full of new places to eat (the shopping is much the same as everywhere else, high street stuff and big brands) and thus last night we decided to try Aster, which promises to be Scandinavian in inspiration. When I think of Scandinavia I think of my many visits to Norway, forty types of herring in dill, moose meat, elk, and snow goose. I was anticipating the preisleberry compote and the cucumber and sour cream salads. What could be finer than a night in Oslo, snow gently falling, snow shoes attached and long-longing glances into each other’s eyes as we toast endlessly with acquavit and beer. You need a steady hand and head to survive one of these evenings, I can tell you. I felt so nostalgic that I couldn’t wait to read the menu. Imagine my surprise when the Spanish restaurant manager presented an abbreviated version of Nordic treats, which included white eggplant with quinoa, cod on lentils, oxcheeks on mash, and venison with lentils and not a marinated herring in sight!

No tomato with herring. No onions and herring. No gralax. No sour cream. No dill. I was deeply disappointed and asked the manager about this oversight. Is the Chef actually Norwegian (as I had thought)? Oh, she is actually Finnish. And the cuisine, how would you describe it? Well, French and a bit of Scandinavia, she intoned somewhat sheepishly I thought. Ah. The food came tepid in temperature, although beautifully arranged on the dish. We also had a vegetable a side dishof polenta. Now, I ask you, who is kidding who?

I did mention the temperature as an issue, but was reluctant to send it back as the kitchen seemed as far from the dining area as Land’s End is from John o’Groats. These restaurants are the current manifestation it seems of a younger generation who want high tech surroundings that look a bit like an updated railway station (appropriate perhaps to the area), and spend most of the evening shouting at each other or their iPhones.

The dessert was chocolate mousse — as close to moose as we were going to get.

One star for a clean as a whistle atmosphere, kindly if unknowing service, and some very nice Spanish wine called Alberiño.

Kaaren Hale

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One Response to “Aster Restaurant”

  1. Great writeup. I’m heading to London soon and will add this neighborhood to explore – and where not to go! thanks,

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