There are no words in the sentence ‘would you like to go to a free-flowing prosecco brunch at Nordic-inspired Aster Restaurant?’ which I don’t like. It was simply an invitation that was too good to pass up, so a friend and I headed over to Victoria, Westminster just to see how free-flowing this prosecco was.
Aster’s Executive Chef, Helena Puolakka, comes from the south-west coast of Finland, which has shaped her cooking – uncomplicated, homemade with distinctive flavours. She worked as head chef at Pierre Koffmann’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant, La Tante Claire and with Pierre Gagnaire at his three-Michelin-starred restaurant at Hotel Balzac in Paris.
As Michelle Roux Jnr likes to say on Masterchef, ‘she’s been trained in the classics’ and her French culinary training can be seen in the detail of her creations. If asked, Helena would some up her cooking as Nordic/French – and that is the vibe you get at Aster.
Don’t be put off by the current renovation and refurbishment works going on at Victoria Underground station which has turned the whole place nearby a little crazy. It’s worth the trip. This is probably not the place if you are looking for a lazy, calm and quiet Sunday brunch. Instead, Aster presents a lively setting filled with families and groups of friends enjoying each others company – and the free-flowing prosecco.
Housed in one of London’s newest glass monoliths, Aster is bright and airy. The large champagne bar dominates the room, with marble table tops and brass details – that ever-so-now ‘lux look’, it would be a cool place for after-work date. And as the Evening Standard said, ‘an overhead hanging clock (similar to that in Grand Central) sets the bustling brasserie tone.’
The Sunday brunch menu spans that awkward period between ‘late breakfast’ (or for some ‘second breakfast’!) and late lunch – roughly 11pm to 3pm. So there’s a good selection of more ‘breakfasty’ items and lunch favourites. And at reasonable value too, two courses came in at £21 or £26 for three, adding £15 each for unlimited bubbles.
Waiting staff were very good with keeping us topped up with the bubbly, the menu stipulates that bubbles flow for a two hour period from when you booked your table. Realistically, I think staff kept us topped up beyond our designated period, even giving us one for the road. As my friend and I hadn’t seen each other for a while we were chatting away and weren’t exactly in a rush.
Despite mindful of my wedding dress fitting in a few weeks time, we did opt for the three courses. Each course was a healthy portion – not huge, but not measly either – and we easily ate three courses without that horrid stuffed feeling at the end.
To start we had smashed avocado on rye toast with green goddess dressing and the Aster Caesar salad with Greenland prawns, smoked vendance and crispy rye. For mains, Steak tartare, green salad, sourdough toast and Fillet steak, celeriac remoulade, BBQ hollandaise – which was quite different and tasty.
Rounding off our brunch, we had Aster’s take on a classic – nordic mess: Kefir mousse, berries, meringue, strawberry coulis and a coconut pannacotta, basil shortbread with lingonberries (an IKEA favourite.) To be honest, the Nordic influence isn’t that obvious across the brunch menu, with just some finishing touches here and there like my lingonberries and my friend’s nordic mess.
Thank you to Bookatable and Aster for our great brunch, if you’d like to book a space for this weekend head to https://www.bookatable.co.uk/aster-restaurant-victoria-london. I think that if you are a fan of afternoon tea, that the floral-inspired offering from Aster would be a real treat (and a bargain at £15 a head!)