Tried & Tested

Restaurant review: Aster, London

3 Oct 2017 by Mark Caswell
Restaurant review: Aster, London

BACKGROUND

Aster is the latest restaurant to open within the D&D London portfolio – we have reviewed several of the group’s other establishments in the last couple of years including:

The restaurant is part of the huge new Nova development close to Victoria rail and tube station, which features a mixture of offices, residential space, and a raft of food and drink outlets including Sourced Market, Ahi Poke, Shake Shack, Franco Manca, Jason Atherton’s Hai Centao (reviewed here), and a forthcoming second site for Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa offering.

Spread over two floors, Aster comprises a deli, café and cocktail bar on the ground floor, and restaurant and champagne bar upstairs. Finnish executive chef Helena Puolakka – previously head chef at La Tante Claire, and more recently at D&D’s Skylon – describes her cooking style as Nordic / French.

Restaurant review: Aster, London

WHERE IS IT?

On Victoria Street at the southeast corner of the Nova development, opposite one of the entrances to Victoria Underground station, and a couple of minutes’ walk from the rail terminus.

THE VENUE

I visited Aster on a wet and windy midweek evening in September, and the ground floor was almost empty. Expecting the restaurant to be similarly sparsely populated, I was pleasantly surprised to find a buzzing crowd of couples and larger groups, with most tables taken.

Designed by Russell Sage Studio, the restaurant features floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto Victoria Street, with a copper-coloured champagne bar at the top of the stairs, followed by a mixture of traditional dining and booth-style seating, lit by clusters of stripped bulbs which my guest described as “molecular structures”.

Restaurant review: Aster, London

THE FOOD

My guest is vegetarian, and was surprised that there were no specific starter options for her, although the waiter did say that the two vegetarian main courses could be made as starters. In the end she opted for the turnip soup with Greenland prawns (£9.50), without the prawns, and enjoyed it.

I opted for the spiced wood pigeon with beetroot creme fraiche and smoked almonds (£12.50) – I was informed that the pigeon would be substituted with quail due to availability issues. It was fine, although probably the least inspiring of the dishes I tried that evening.

Restaurant review: Aster, London

For the main course my guest chose the gnocchi, red onions, walnut cream and smoked cheddar (£14.50), while I went for the saddle of venison, pickled red cabbage and juniper blackberry sauce (£24). It was cooked perfectly pink, and the sharpness of the cabbage went beautifully with the gamey venison and the sweet sauce.

Restaurant review: Aster, London

For dessert I chose the raspberry mousse, hazelnut cake, poached rhubarb and sorbet (£7.50), which was absolutely delicious – my guest had the coconut pannacotta, basil shortbread and lingonberries (£7) which again was fantastic – just the right amount of wobble on the pannacotta, and light-as-a-feather shortbread.

For us the desserts were the highlight of the meal, and we could easily have stayed and tried another one if we weren’t having to catch a train home.

Restaurant review: Aster, London

Note that several of our choices above are no longer available on the current menu, but hopefully they give you a sense of the type of dishes available – expect plenty of pickled veg and sweet berry sauces, to go with classic meat and fish dishes.

The current a la carte menu, as well as the various cafe, deli and afternoon tea menu can all be seen here.

THE DRINK

Cocktails (including the Aster Martini – vanilla vodka, passion fruit pure and lingo berry jam, topped with sparkling wine foam) are all priced at £10.50, while wine ranges between £5 and £15 by the glass, and from £20 by the bottle, with a good mix of old and new world choices.

THE SERVICE

Excellent – attentive without being overbearing, and reception staff were also friendly and helpful with my various questions about the venue.

VERDICT

A standout addition to the burgeoning Victoria food scene, with interesting flavours and excellent service. Just make sure you stay for dessert.

OPENING HOURS

Restaurant

  • Lunch Monday to Friday 1200-1430, Saturday brunch 1100-1600, Sunday closed
  • Dinner Tuesday to Saturday 1700-2200, Sunday and Monday evenings closed

Cafe

  • Breakfast Monday to Friday 0700-1100, weekends closed
  • Lunch and dinner Monday to Friday 1100-2230, Saturday dinner 1600-2230
  • Brunch weekends 1100-1600

Deli

  • Breakfast Monday to Friday 0700-1100, weekends closed
  • Lunch and dinner Monday to Friday 1100-2230

PRICE

Starters £9.50-£15; mains £14.50-£28; sides all £3.50; desserts £5.50-£8.

CONTACT

Aster, 150 Victoria Street, London SW1E 5LB; tel +44 (0)20 3875 5555; aster-restaurant.com

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