There’s a grand sense of arrival, the first time you walk in through the dramatic colonnaded entrance of Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square.
Formerly the HQ of the Port of London Authority, the Beaux-Arts structure occupies the area around which the Romans originally established Londinium (almost two millennia ago!). It’s unsurprising then that restoration of the building has taken its own time, with excavations revealing a treasure trove of archaeological wonders including cellars, a well and a cess pit!
The storied history of the site, Ten Trinity Square, extends to its role in hosting the inaugural assembly of the United Nations; and in later years, serving as a film-set for Skyfall, the 2012 James Bond film. It’s now fittingly part of the Four Seasons family, embodying the brand’s inimitably seamless approach to luxury across all aspects of the hotel’s service…
Original features from the plasterwork to the marble-drenched floors and striking staircase have been lovingly restored and preserved; the cynosure being the magnificent Art Deco domed ceiling cloistering the Rotunda Bar & Lounge. It’s here that I rendezvous with my dear friend, Khushboo, an upbeat tone to our chinwag set from the start by the live band performing in the centre of the room!
Early evening sharpeners are soon to arrive, cleverly-concocted by the dapper mixologists behind the glossy, copper-topped bar.
Creating their own dictionary in reference to the 1920’s, tipples include the likes of a “Blushing Violet” (a floral lift to sweet wine) and my favourite, the Corn Shredder which alludes to a young man dancing on a woman’s feet…! The base spirit Tanqueray TEN, is laced with pink grapefruit, corn and a sweet touch of agave, conjuring up a cocktail which is crisp yet has a vivaciously-velvety note.
The ode to the Roaring Decade reflects in Art Deco details too; but there’s also a subtle fusion of Eastern design elements, with motifs from Chinese philosophy and culture (representative of earth, water, fire, air and circles) gracing the stark white walls.
The happy harmony of the East and West carries through to the restaurants housed within the hotel – La Dame de Pic, a Michelin-starred French restaurant helmed by three-Michelin star chef Ann-Sophie Pic; and Mei Ume, where we are dining this evening.
The words “mei” and “ume” translate to “plum” in Chinese and Japanese respectively, speaking of the two cuisines at the fore of this moodily atmospheric venue, which is ornate yet tastefully-graceful.
The live sushi bar is a cosy spot to perch at before we move on to our table for the main event, with an Asian riff on cocktails in order – each intriguingly presented in a ceramic glass fashioned after the four key elements of Chinese astronomy (the azure dragon of the east; white tiger of the west; black turtle of the north; and vermilion bird of the south).
As for the sushi – the remarkably well-assembled vegetarian options are enough to convince K of the merits of a plant-based diet. The tempura maki deserves a special mention for its crunchy yet surprisingly-light texture; and we also love the dash of shiso and myoga (Japanese ginger) which sets apart the other veggie-heavy maki roll.
Dim sum features on the menu as well. But while the pumpkin-dumplings are the essence of a wintry evening, the wrappers enrobing the mushroom-truffle ones are much too thick and eclipse the softer flavours within. I can’t help but also wish for a more pronounced trace of truffles, rather than just the faint hint of truffle oil…
However, our Cantonese-style vegetarian mains culminate in a meatier affair involving softly-chewy bites of mock duck which we gleefully mix into our hot stone rice bowl. Prepared table-side, the crisp-bottomed bowl sees a sizzling shiitake mushroom sauce poured over a medley of seasonal stir-fried veggies and rice. It’s as superbly-sating as we could hope for on a chilly evening like this.
Of course, K being the nutritionist that she quite legitimately is, insists on a side of greens too. As we can’t seem to choose between pak choi and gai lan (Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale – depending on how you look at it), the kitchen kindly throws together a combination, adding fabulously-fresh and crunchy asparagus for good measure!
Chocolate moelleux is a glorious note on which to finish, with the fondant-esque dessert revealing a gooey gush of dark chocolate, its unapologetic richness offset by the nuttier tones of roasted sesame ice cream.
A mango, coconut and strawberry pudding might not sound like anything to particularly write home about; and yet the refreshingly-natural flavours of each element memorably stand out, holding their own within a thickly-layered, panna cotta-esque construction which I find much joy in working my way through. And of course, we plump for a few extra scoops of homemade matcha ice cream!
An utterly perfect chocolate mouelleux (paired with sesame ice cream) @MeiUmeLondon! Of course we also found room for a few extra scoops of matcha ice cream *and* a lush mango & coconut panna cotta-like pudding… Lovely finish to an enthralling evening @FSTenTrinity! #ChocolateIsLife #TopLondonRestaurants #MeiUmeLondon #TheFoodieDiariesLondon
The fact that we’re one of the last few to leave the hotel is telling of the easy flow of our evening.
I very much hope to enjoy many more such enthralling revisits; and from the new sanctuary spa to cocktails & jazz in the Rotunda; deeply-comforting Asian dishes to haute French cuisine executed with an exquisite finesse – I don’t doubt that I’ll find compelling reasons a-plenty to find my way back to this landmark destination in the City.
To be continued.
Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square, 10 Trinity Square, London EC3N 4AJ
I was a guest of the Four Seasons; as always, all opinions and mine and mine alone
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