1901 at Andaz Offers Cheese and Wine Experience

By P. Joseph

Nestled within the sumptuous and ultra-modern Andaz Hotel, just moments from London’s bustling Liverpool Street station, 1901 doubles as an ideal venue for a business breakfast or lunch, or a post-work evening meal.

The Grade II building dates back to 1884, and the restaurant’s interior combines traditional and contemporary décor, with neo-classical pillars and a spectacular stain-glassed dome in the ceiling looming large over a vast cocktail bar occupying the central space.

Despite these grandiose features, informal seating lend a relaxed, communal feel to the restaurant, which is enhanced by the sight of guests dotted around reading newspapers and catching up with work.

We were later told that the open plan interior is designed to break down formal barriers – an effect which is consolidated by smaller details such as senior staff wearing open, tie-less shirts.

For diners, 1901’s menu is an all-British affair, with great attention given to the provenance of each item (e.g. Pearl Barley Stew / Lincolnshire; Lamb Rump / Elwy Valley). The à la carte offerings are diverse enough to satisfy every palate, but the restaurant’s most daring concept is unquestionably its Cheese and Wine Experience.

At the far end of the restaurant, just past the cocktail bar, is a dedicated cheese and wine table. Surrounding this tasting area are elegant glass cabinets housing bottle after bottle of wine, and one shelf given over entirely to cheese. As per the à la carte menu, each cheese is British in origin (the wine, to our relief, is not).

The experience is designed to be interactive, with detailed descriptions of the wine and cheese delivered by knowledgeable, enthusiastic and attentive staff. Feedback on the dishes is encouraged and those opting for the tasting menu are offered wines from a wide variety of regions.

Presentation is thoughtful, with the cheeses laid out on slate boards and bread and grapes served up on rustic wood. The only negative is the inclusion of mass-produced biscuits and crackers, when the experience demanded something more high-end.

But it was an oversight that we found easy to forgive. 1901’s cheese and wine tasting is a superb ‘alternative’ dining out experience during which you will learn a lot, eat and drink even more, and depart having undergone a sensory overload.

Cheese and wine tasting at 1901 starts at £38 for food. Wine is extra and starts from around £35.

By P. Joseph