Peter Morrell samples the menu in the restaurant at the stylish Qbic hotel in London’s Whitechapel
Suddenly in London everybody wants to be to the east of the City of London. From Hoxton and Shoreditch to Whitechapel there are galleries, boutiques, bars and restaurants popping up to satisfy this growing demand.
So I recently went to the area to see what was going on and to find a good place to eat. I had heard that the restaurant Parts & Labour, in the chic urban Qbic Hotel, offered good food and hopped on the tube to Aldgate East for a look and a taste. The five minute walk to the hotel took me past the Whitechapel gallery, a sure sign that culture is alive and well in this part of London.
The Qbic Hotel itself overlooks a pleasant park, now dedicated to a Bangladeshi murder victim, in the 14th century it was the site of St. Mary Matfelon, a chapel that was painted white, hence the name of the area.
The lobby of the hotel has a cool, contemporary feel about it and this extends into the Parts & Labour restaurant. It is an upbeat, vibrant dining space with striking primary colours, white ‘brick’ tiles and wooden furniture giving it a minimalist,Scandinavian feel.
I was lunching with a friend and we were both impressed by the food on offer. It was primarily modern British but with more than a nod to the heritage of the Jewish community who used to live in Whitechapel. The sandwiches and soups section of the menu offers toasted Ruben, a hot salt beef sandwich, with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese, and ‘Mother’s Penicillin’, chicken soup with dumplings.
The Salad section looked interesting, for example the roast aubergine, mixed grains, parsley, lemon, pomegranate and mint yoghurt was both healthy and vegetarian friendly. However we both chose our starters from the list of small plates, the potted beef with wholegrain mustard, pickles and toast looked appetising as did the spiced smoked lamb ribs with pickled cucumber and dukkah (a mix of herbs, spices and nuts).
Our eventual choices were hummus with grilled flatbread, both home-made, for my companion, who was very happy with the dish. I had smoked salmon, made by the London company, Hansen and Lyderson, who prepare the fish using an old recipe from their native Norway. It was delicious, very simple yet packed with flavour.
The large plates on the menu featured rump, sirloin and ribeye steaks, fish and, for the non carnivores, gnocchi with wild mushrooms, black cabbage, lemon and garlic. My friend had the daily special, grilled lemon sole with a mixed salad. The fish was ultra fresh with a delicate taste.
I had the pork ribs with chips and a fennel slaw. These was highly satisfying, very meaty and with a strong smoky flavour. The secret of how this was achieved was to slow roast the rack in the oven and then finish them off in ‘The Big Green Egg’. This is an oval shaped ceramic barbeque with a lid that seals the heat and smoke inside, keeping the food moist and giving it an intense flavour.
The comprehensive drinks menu had a range of innovative cocktails, fashionable spirits, bubblies and beers, which included some of my favourite Meantime brews. There was a short selection of red, white and rose wines, our pairing with the food was the red Monte Clavijo Rioja Tempranillo. This had notes of soft summer fruit on the bouquet which developed into red stone fruit on the palate with hints of pepper and vanilla and the finish was long and smooth.
We were tempted by the desserts, the toasted Dorset apple cake with apple cider compote and vanilla ice cream was a candidate as was the Devon blue cheese with chutney and fennel & poppy seed water biscuits but we resisted the temptation. The final, pleasant surprise was the heavy emphasis on good quality coffee and the tea library, which had a comprehensive selection.
The service throughout the meal was friendly and efficient and the ambience of the room was comfortable and relaxed. A very good choice for lunch offering food totally in tune with this area of London which is rapidly gaining in popularity. One final style note, I loved the richly patterned plates!
Parts & Labour
Qbic London City Hotel
42 Adler Street,
London E1 1EE
Tel: +44 (0)20 3021 1469
Expect to pay around £40:00 person including drinks and service
Sunday lunch at Parts & Labour
Parts & Labour also serve the Great British Sunday Roast staple every Sunday from 12:30pm until 10pm. All you need to do is decide between beef or chicken, both come with all the trimmings.