What: A new restaurant at the Tower of London, serving a menu of (mostly) classic British dishes.
Who: Sargeant’s Mess gets its name from its owner, former Gordon Ramsay lieutenant Mark Sargeant, and a neat reference to a mess, the room in which members of the armed forces have their meals. It joins Sarge's growing portfolio of pubs and restaurants, which includes Rocksalt and The Smokehouse in Folkestone and The Wife of Bath in Ashford. Sargeant’s Mess, however, is a collaboration between hospitality group CH&Co and the Historic Royal Palaces charity, which oversees the goings on at the Tower of London.
The vibe: The restaurant’s convenient location at the foot of both the Tower of London and Tower Bridge means that it is well placed to catch the hordes of passing tourists. With one floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the Thames and Tower Bridge, and another a view of the Tower (albeit from below) there’s plenty to keep you occupied as you wait for the food. Touches such as the authentic medieval doors and grilled gates that are bolted outside at closing time (as it is actually part of the Tower itself) keep the restaurant from being too contemporary, but aren’t so obvious as to seem like a gimmick.
The food: The menu is mostly classic British, and is divided into small plates; starters; salads; mains; a rotating list of daily specials (duck on Tuesday, lamb and mint on Wednesday, etc) as well as sides and desserts. Starters include the likes of smoked salmon and scotch eggs; Yorkshire pudding served with garlic butter; and seaweed crackers, while mains are a bit more ‘Henry VIII’ and include fish and ‘dripping chips’ and mushy peas; and a daily changing steamed suet pudding served with mash, peas and gravy. Sourcing is British, and despite the restaurant’s traditional ‘old hearty British’ feel, the menu is not lacking in options for vegetarians and vegans.
The drinks: A wine list offers a few champagnes, sparkling wines, whites and reds by the glass, alongside a substantial list of bottles. There’s also a surprisingly large range of bottled beers on offer. Cocktails are themed around the tourist location, cashing in on the Crown Jewels and the Tower to rename classics such as the Tower Bridge Bramble and the Crown Jules Mule.
And another thing: The opening for the restaurant - which launched earlier this month - was pushed back from February due to complications arising from it being housed in an ancient landmark. Whether the ghost of Anne Boleyn, beheaded under Henry VIII’s orders in 1536 and believed to still roam the site, was one of these complications is unclear.