André Jaeger recently collaborated with the beautiful St. Albans Hotel, Sopwell House to create a unique and bespoke gourmet encounter. André talents know no bounds, having grown up in a small town in Switzerland called Schaffhausen. André went to train at Beaurivage Palace and the Catering College before graduating and starting his culinary journey at The Dorchester in London. After some time he returned to his roots at continued his journey at Grand Hotel Eden in Lugano, Switzerland. André’s last leg of his culinary journey to the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong. His Asian experience influenced the way André’s cuisine and immersed himself into a nouvelle cuisine which was influenced by flavours and cooking techniques from Asia.
André brought his truly fantastic nouvelle cuisine for us to experience, for just three nights only. We were so fortunate to try spend one of the evenings being truly spoilt by André tasting menu, whilst being in the opulent restaurant of Sopwell House.
We kicked off our evening with a glass of pink bubbles by Tattinger, toasting to new experiences and getting to try André’s food. We were definitely in for a treat.
A large loaf of bread was served to us with a porcelain pot of salted butter. Our waitress explained to us that serving a loaf signifies the breaking of bread amongst people, which signifies friendship between those breaking bread together.
Not long after Binny and I broke the bread, our trio of amuse bouches arrived. As we opted to try André’s vegetarian menu, I was excited to see what he could come up with for our whole meal. I was rather impressed by the amuse bouche alone. We were served vegetable spring rolls with Thai vinaigrette, vegetable tempura with asian dips and pumpkin soup with rice crackers. I’m a huge lover of tempura, especially the asian dip it was served with. The strong flavours of soy, ginger, honey and sesame made it so moreish, we even had to dip our spring rolls in it.
For our staters, we were served an Onsen egg in mango jelly with sesame cream and mango on top. The egg is cooked at 62 degrees for 42 minutes, which is inspiration of the Japanese hot springs where the Japanese sometimes cook their eggs. As you scooped past the layer of sesame cream, you came to the soft egg with a almost see-through egg white membrane, before cutting it open to find the fire coloured orange yolk pouring out.
Our meal was served with a wine paring too. The wine served with our starter was a Muscadet de Sèvre by Marquis de Goulaine. A lovely citric white wine with green apple, lemon and mint notes, you could smell the different notes in the wine too. The sommelier, Peter at Sopwell House was so great at taking the time to explain all the wines to us with lots of passion. A true asset to the restaurant.
For our intermediate course, we were served a gorgeous greek take on vegetable lasagne. I’ve never had anything quite like it before, where the pasta sheets were replaced with thinly sliced and chargrilled courgette with a creamy cheese and rich tomato sauce in between each layer. It was also seasoned to perfection, bringing some delicious greek flavours out in it too.
The lasagne was paired with a Villa Maria Reserve Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. There was tasting notes of gooseberry, lime, peach, apricot and honeysuckle. The ripeness of the wine comes from the grapes being left on the vines longer than normal to over mature.
For our main course, we were served a creamy risotto with Thai asparagus with black beans and regiano parmesan. It was the perfect hearty dish with love garlic and oriental flavours and the parmesan added a lovely nutty flavour to the dish too.
The risotto was paired with a glass of Côtes du Rhône Rouge, Vin Gourmand by Marquis de Goulaine. This lovely red wine boasted flavours of red currants, raspberry, red berries, cinnamon and a touch of warming spice too.
We then had a pre-dessert of blackberry ice cream with French benedictine, which is a cream coloured herbal liqueur. Very refreshing and perfect for cleansing the palette before the gorgeous desserts.
Binny and I decided to order two different desserts and share them, that way we got to try more things. Great minds, right?
We ordered the cheese course first which was Saint Agure cheese in kataifi (the filo strands served on top) with honey, fleur de sel (a delicate salt), beetroot and wasabi mustard. The cheese had a strong flavour that was quite powerful but it was completed by the sweetness of the honey and savory kataifi.
The desserts were paired with a glass of torres floralis moscatel dessert wine, which was absolutely divine. The tasting notes were passionfruit, honey, mandarin and various floral notes which complimented the cheese dessert and also the second dessert.
The second dessert we ordered was the passionfruit soufflé with passion fruit chutney, vanilla ice cream and meringue. This was dessert heaven for me, especially as passionfruit is one of my favourite fruits, plus the softest, fluffy soufflé in the mix with ice-cream covered in sweet, crunchy meringue. I was ready to be rolled out of the restaurant and up to my Lilyturf suite.
We were very fortunate that we didn’t have to walk very far from the restaurant, as we popped across from the main hotel to the Sopwell House mews view suites. Tapping our key against the sensor, the majestic gates to the suites opened and we tottered around the corner up to our suite.
The bedroom itself was a cosy and had views from our room overlooking the gorgeous mews. It gives a real sense of serenity compared to the hustle and bustle of London.
The thing I loved most about this suite was there electronic fire that ensured the whole suite was warm. It was the perfect spot to grab a hot chocolate and sit next to after braving the freezing cold weather outside. However, before we did that we wanted to make the most of the gorgeous outdoor heated hydropool that was open until midnight. The perfect way to relax after a boozy and delicious dinner.
Feeling completely zen, we set off back to our Lilyturf suite just before midnight ready for a restful night sleep.
I think the best thing about hotel stays is the breakfast and it’s not everyday you get to stay in bed that extra bit longer. Therefore, we took advantage of the in-room service breakfast at Sopwell House especially as we had a late night. The spread of fresh fruit, pastries, juice, coffee and eggs and soldiers was just what we needed to set us up for the day ahead.
Once we managed to get out of bed and face the world, we got the chance to see the rest of the hotel that we hadn’t already seen. I have to admit, the library is the perfect place to have a spot of afternoon tea – it is just so cute. I’ll definitely be back to try it!
Binny and I both had a lovely overnight stay and experience at Sopwell House, it made for the perfect get away from London with fantastic food and a relaxing stay too.
Until next time…