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The Oxo Tower - An upper class restaurant with no class!
Oxo Tower (London)
Member Name: lindseyphilpot
Oxo Tower (London)
Date: 07/10/09, updated on 08/10/09 (1894 review reads)
Advantages: Nice food
Disadvantages: cramped, bad service, expensive drink, bad decor and ambience
I recently visited the Oxo tower on a girl's night out for my friends 21st birthday. We thought we would be posh for the night and had arranged transport ad everything. Trust me when I say that this is not the usual procedure for a night out as usually we just have a few and see where the night takes us but we wanted this to be special so we went all out.
I already had a pre conceived idea of what the restaurant was going to be like. I have heard it is fine dining and 'posh'. On arrival we found that we were to be eating in the brassiere which was fine. This is a cheaper version on the very expensive restaurant and I guess we were shortly to find out that you get what you pay for. The staff were friendly on arrival and there was even a cloak room which I thought was pretty swanky compared to any restaurant I have ever been to. The decor didn't really seem anything from the ordinary though and I did feel as though I had just come to my local restaurant rather than somewhere special. We were shifted into the bar where we were told that they were running a little late and they would call us shortly. Money making scheme may be?
The bar was absolutely packed out to the rafters. It was loud and there was absolutely nowhere to sit. Our guess was that they weren't all waiting to be seated as we would have a very long wait if this was the case. There was a pianist and a singer in the bar which made for quite a nice atmosphere.
The actual bar was quite large and there was plenty of room to stand and queue, there was plenty of staff so we didn't have to wait too long to be served. Menus were scattered along the bar and I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the prices. It was anything FROM £30 a bottle of wine, my guess is they were something special and I have to admit to not knowing a lot about wine apart from your run of the mill £4.99 bottle of blossom hill. Unfortunately the prices got larger as the drinks got smaller and the spirit prices were through the roof. We opted for a Dry Martini (yuck) because this was cheapest on the menu at £6 as I refused to pay £10- £15 for a vodka and orange. I don't really know why we bothered but I guess we just didn't want to look silly in the restaurant.
We eventually got called to our table - about 30 minutes late which I thought was bad form for this sort of restaurant. I was so disappointed when we got led to our table as I felt I was in more of a cafe in a glass green house than a posh restaurant. The tables didn't even have table cloths and the chairs were more like something you would find in an uncomfortable American diner. They were packed so tightly in that it would be terrible for anyone in a wheelchair or with a buggy and there were not many window seats although we were lucky to get one of these. Unfortunately the view wasn't really fascinating though as all you could really see was the river and a few cranes, nothing I can't see from a tall block of flats. The ambience wasn't anything special either and although you could see and hear the singer and pianist from the restaurant it was more like being in a bad karaoke club for dinner which didn't really go down well with the meal! The lighting was quite nice though and good for this type of restaurant, bright but not too bright!
The menu was pretty self explanatory - of you don't speak English - ok so I don't eat out all that much, well I do but not at restaurants like this. Unfortunately I could not understand a word of it apart from the odd word like duck or pork. There were a few options including some fish, some salad some others which I couldn't even tell you about. I opted for the pork chop in yada dad sauce with yada dad salad. My friends opted for the sea bass and duck curry.
The waiter seemed friendly enough but we didn't see a lot of her apart from when she took our order. I think that sometimes this can be a good thing but on this occasion she was almost nonexistent. There were times we needed something and she was nowhere to be seen. I understand they were busy but we didn't even get asked if there was anything we needed.
Our meals came out pretty quickly - about 15 minutes I would say and they all came out together which is always a bonus. They all looked fantastic and smelt divine. My pork chop was succulent and I have to say totally yummy. It was by far the best pork chop I have ever tasted and the mushroom sauce it was dressed in was very yummy, it came with some other concoction which I didn't eat because it didn't float my boat but that is neither here nor there!
We ordered desert also and there was a variety on offer. I chose the toffee cheese cake and my friends chose pancakes. The desert was unfortunately not as mice as the main course and not like any cheese cake I have ever tasted before, it was far too rich and creamy and very sickly, unfortunately I did not finish this, not even nearly, I just didn't like it. My friends said theirs were nice but not the best. We left pretty soon after this.
The prices were pretty reasonable and I suppose this was because we were eating in the brassiere, the whole bill came to about £200 for 5 of us, this was without starters and without drinks but still quite reasonable! They did add a 12.5 % service charge onto the bill automatically which they do in most restaurants these days but we opted to pay just 10% of this as we thought our service was pretty ropey!
I can't really comment on how easy or hard it is to find as we got dropped right outside but on walking out of the restaurant although we had had a few as far as I could tell it was pretty well hidden and the actual entrance very well concealed within the complex which is the oxo tower. We found it hard to get a cab from here and had to walk a fair way to get to any main street in order to get any transport onto the next place.
There is no dress code for the restaurant and we all got really dressed up and actually felt over dressed. Many people looked like they had came straight from work and many had jeans and trainers on, not something I expected to see here but I wish I had known as I too would have worn my jeans!
I decided on this particular night not to drink a lot because I have a young daughter at home, prices are high in London and I can't really justify spending this sort of money any more now I have the little one and Christmas is coming. The next day when I woke up I felt very very ill and started to be sick ETC!!
I don't want to point fingers as obviously I cannot pin point to where exactly my sickness had came from but I would just like to say that I hadn't eaten anything else that day due to me saving myself for my big night out! I could actually taste the cheesecake for three days after and unfortunately I think this was the culprit but as I said I don't know. I have never felt so ill thought and felt as though I just wanted to be swallowed by a deadly monster.
Although it didn't cost too much I really don't think it is worth it. I wouldn't travel far to visit it and fortunately I live in London so this is nothing too far for me but I have heard of people all over the world wanting to go here and I would be bitterly disappointed. It was totally not what I expected and felt more like I was in a small town cafe. I have had far better meals in TGI Fridays and I do not understand why people hype it up so much. I would not choose to return here and if someone offered me to go there I would probably have to seriously consider whether it was worth a night away from my little one. The food was yummy but I wouldn't want to eat there again just in case! Unfortunately this was just not my cup of tea and I feel sorry for the girl who was paying the bill, I think she enjoyed herself though which is the main thing and if you visit I hope you do too, just steer clear of the cheesecake :)
Summary: Wouldn't bother