A new Birmingham hotel has pulled off a culinary coup by enlisting one the country’s top chefs to advise on its restaurant.
Marcus Wareing, whose acclaimed Knightsbridge restaurant at The Berkeley has two Michelin stars, is helping the £24 million Hotel La Tour launch its Aalto Restaurant.
Aalto, which is due to open at the end of March, promises to showcase classic English dishes with a modern twist.
Wareing has been working behind the scenes in an advisory role with newly-appointed head chef Alex Penhaligon, devising menu concepts and assisting with the recruitment and training of kitchen staff.
Hotel La Tour says Wareing, who also runs The Gilbert Scott at the St Pancras Hotel, will continue to develop Aalto’s menus and monitor standards.
The four-star hotel’s Alvar Bar, whose copper and granite-topped bar is being vaunted as the biggest in the city, will offer lighter dishes and quick bites, such as Welsh rarebit, fried sprats with tartare sauce, pork pie with piccalilli and the Alvar burger (British beef and smoked Applewood cheese).
The Eastside restaurant and the bar are named after Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, who was a key figure in the Modernist movement.
Wareing and Penhaligon have also been working on the food for the hotel coffee shop, including a modern take on the Great British sandwich, pastries and desserts.
Jane Schofield, managing director of Hotel La Tour, said: “Marcus has been achieving Michelin stars since 1997 and is well-known to the British public through his success on the BBC’s Great British Menu programme, where he won the honour of cooking for the Queen at her 80th birthday banquet.
“He’s also well-known for his dedicated and perfectionist approach to cooking and hospitality, with an infectious passion for food and excellence which make him a perfect partner for Hotel La Tour.
“We’re very proud that one of the brightest stars in British cooking has chosen to work with us and we’re excited to open our bookings to welcome our first diners at the end of March.”
Penhaligon has worked at four and five-star hotels, primarily in London, and the pressure will be on to deliver Wareing’s exacting vision while differentiating Hotel La Tour from competitors in the city’s hotel dining scene, including The Hyatt Regency (Aria restaurant), Hotel du Vin, Malmaison and the Radisson (Filini).
Penhaligon said: “The pure diversity we’re going to be offering our customers, through Aalto Restaurant, Alvar Bar plus our coffee shop, will mark us out as different.
“Our emphasis will be on creating flavoursome, classic dishes with a modern twist, freshly produced on site.
"Where possible we’ll also be sourcing interesting additions to our menu from artisan producers and we know our diners will relish the opportunity to sample the best the region has to offer.”
The chef has challenged anyone to get in touch if they know a great local product that should be included on the menu.
Alvar aims to reflect the local heritage with a new signature cocktail called The Chamberlain – a blend of pear vodka, English breakfast tea and ginger beer.
Hotel La Tour, which has 174 bedrooms and suites, is run by the former management team of Hayley Conference Centres, which was acquired by private equity firm Permira in a £358 million deal in May 2007.
The Birmingham hotel is the first of five developments planned for the next five years.