Asia de Cuba // Covent Garden // London

Despite not being the newest hotel on the block, St. Martin’s Lane has managed to remain at the forefront of designed hotels in London and still attracts a trendy crowd. Enhanced at night with its different coloured lights, the high white ceiling in the lobby is very Saatchi gallery-esque. The Light Bar behind reception is also very impressive with its ‘big face’ pictures on the walls. The dining room itself seems more classic, though appearances can be deceptive. The inspiration for the design is a university library, with the pillars covered with shelves of reference books and literature. There are also a number of portraits which are intermingled with mirrors that together create an exhibition.

This same technique of matching and mixing effects has been applied to the food with thoughtful combinations of South-American and Asian flavours, served on plates that you’re encouraged to share.

For starters, the ceviche of salmon with the guacamole ice cream shouldn’t be missed. The match between salmon and avocado is nothing new but the fresh softness of the ice cream creates an interesting contrast. The tunapica is also a great alternative, made of layers of marinated tuna, with crispy chips perfectly balancing against the tenderness of the fish.

For mains, descriptions are very appealing so it can be hard to make your mind-up. Nicely marinated, the black cod is definitely a good choice. Served pretty much on its own, which is the best way to fully experience the texture and taste of the fish. The sea bass is definitely worthy of sampling as well. Served with crab in a light wrap, it’s accompanied by a sample of sautéed vegetables.

After such great starters and mains, it has to be admitted that as is sadly often the case, desserts aren’t as tasty. The cakes are a bit dry and their flavours are a step lower than the rest. Though having said that, the Cuban Opera and the beautiful semifrio cheesecake ice-cream are very enjoyable.

As a general point, the portions are very generous – for example, the side of Shanghai noodles can easily feed three and same for the desserts. As a result, we recommend that you don’t go crazy when you order.

Service wise, the front of house is beyond reproach, which is always the cherry on the cake for a wonderful evening.

Square Meal
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