Is there anything more satisfying than drinks and dinner with friends? I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening. Lucky for me that my wish was granted; I was invited to a gin masterclass at G & Tea Lounge followed by dinner at Manhattan Grill, both of which are part of London Marriott Hotel, West India Quay. Of course to top it all off I got to share my evening with the wonderful Rosana McPhee, Cooksister and Seen in the City.
The class happens once a month at G & Tea Lounge. I recommend booking in advance as the festive season approaches. I had tremendous fun at the masterclass. It was light-hearted, energetic but most of all I found myself utterly relaxed; such a fabulous way to unwind before dinner.
Headed by G & Tea Lounge’s Head Bartender, Pasquale Parascandolo, we began with a brief history of gin and led on to identifying unique characteristics of unusual gins such as Old Tom, Hayman’s and London Dry. For me, as a food writer, it was intriguing to learn the more unusual notes of the botanicals used in the making and infusing of gins; an interest previously reserved for wine. We sampled three gins and explored a range of botanically brewed tonics which complement them. Pasquale was kind enough to share the bar’s favourite combinations and secrets; quite a task for a bar that holds the largest collection of gins in Canary Wharf. He encouraged us to try brave new flavours and infusions. By the end of the class I certainly felt a greater appreciation for gin. Its recent revival, with many London-based micro-distilleries, finally began to make sense.
Dates, Times and Costs
The class takes place on the last Thursday of each month between 6pm and 7pm at G & Tea Lounge, London Marriott West India Quay. The price of £20 per person includes tasting of three gins and a glass of Gin and Tonic of your choice. So, if you have a gin-lover in your life what a perfect gift this experience would make.
The masterclass was followed by a thoroughly enjoyable dinner at London Marriott West India Quay’s Manhattan Grill. What a treat this evening turned out to be. Spectacular views across the quay set the tone for a wonderful evening that was to unfold. I always maintain that London is full of surprises of the pleasant kind. Manhattan Grill turned out to be just that.
My favourite part of relaxed dining is the element of sharing. The menu here appears to have been created for doing so. The kitchen awed us with a selection of starters. King prawns with chilli and garlic, scallops with caramelised onion and pressed beef with pickles kick-started the meal. Each dish was more delightful than the next.
The pièces de résistance were a variety of steaks, cooked medium-rare, as recommended by the Head Chef. USDA beef fillet, (a superior grade tender steak of fine texture), Scottish beef, Scottish rib-eye and Aberdeen Angus steak arrived with peppercorn sauce and sides from the á la carte menu. We enjoyed perfectly crisp sweet potato fries and divine macaroni and cheese cooked and served in a miniature dutch oven. Wine pairing, which is an optional extra, glued the dishes for an unforgettable evening of dining.
A selection of bite-sized desserts, including childhood favourite, Battenberg cake, cherry tart and chocolate mousse cake covered all manner of sweet teeth. The evening drew in to the night with great conversation and good company long after the last coffee was sipped; a sure fire sign of a wonderful gathering. This one is not to be missed.
For more information visit: www.manhattangrill.co.uk