Hotel la Tour is one of the finest hotels in Birmingham. In November 2015, Marco Pierre White (known as ‘Mr White’) took residency and set up his first ever traditional British chophouse; the grandeur of which should come as no surprise when you consider the prime location of his steakhouse in the Mailbox, which has the best view both in and of Birmingham that our city has to offer.
Located subtly behind the bar on the first floor, Mr White’s is elegantly plush, spacious and inviting. It’s decorated in warm reds and beautiful chandelier light hangings, and of course the now characteristic, and audaciously large, black and white photos of the man himself. You’re sat at large table with a crisp white table cloth, perfectly laid out cutlery and some pretty fancy glassware, and it’s all rather lovely.
The Food and Drink
The choice of starters are pretty special, but before that’s even started, we had some warm baked sourdough with salted butter, which comes with some radishes and an amazing cream cheese dip (£5.50). After battling with the 14 choices, I opted for the Angels on horseback (grilled oysters wrapped in bacon, on toasted sourdough toast - £8.95), and my co-reviewer had the potted smoked mackerel with horseradish and Melba toast (£7.95). Although mine was exactly as amazing as I’d anticipated, I have to admit the mackerel was exceptionally moreish; rich and a little creamy.
Main was inevitably steak. The Butcher’s Block comes with a total 20oz of meat. That’s a Fillet, Sirloin, Onglet and Rump (for two - £59.00). You can have it cooked to your liking, however, I think when it comes to different cuts, it’s best to ask for how the chef thinks best. This comes with buttered chips, grilled vine tomatoes and béarnaise sauce. Obviously this wasn’t enough food, so we had a side of creamed spinach with horseradish (£3.75). All in all, it was absolutely perfect. Couldn’t fault a single thing and I especially liked the spinach. The simplicity is the best feature. Excellent quality cuts of meat, cooked wonderfully.
I’m fond of the word pudding (or, ‘poddin’ as I sometimes say), so the ‘pudding menu’ amused me. We shared an Eaton Mess (£6.50), which is as fancy as an Eaton Mess could ever be, with mini meringues instead of crushed, and a generous dollop of cream, fresh strawberries and raspberries and a super-sweet coolie.
The actual drinks menu is special. I mean the physical thing itself. It lights up! When eating steak, it’d be a crime to not have red wine and there’s an abundance of expertly-picked ones to go with it. I went for a glass of Argentinian Malbec with dinner, a glass of Prosecco with the oysters, and a Vintage Port to go with my 'poddin'.
The Atmosphere and Clientele
Initially, it feels like it could be pretentious. Once you see people eating burgers, pie and curry, you realise that, yes it is fancy, but it’s relaxed. The staff are incredible. You don’t feel like they’re forcing it, and they’ll recommend items for you that aren’t simply the most expensive. Our server was a dream. The GM, Mark, came over for a chat and ran through the success of the restaurant so far, and it was nice getting a feel for how they’re doing and what they want to achieve.
It was a Wednesday night, so clientele were largely business folk staying at the hotel. There were a few groups and one father-daughter combo. I asked what it’s typically like on a Saturday, and Mark informed me that it’s getting busier and busier, which was a pleasant surprise.
If you have the money to spend, or want something a little more up market, this is the place to go. It’s ideal for business people, but I would say it’s somewhere for a celebration, or if you’re really into impressing a date. It’s pricey, I will say that. All in all, Mr White knows exactly what he’s doing, and it’s going to be interesting to see how the Chophouse evolves over the next few months.