Fabulous South African Fare at High Timber

11 Aug 2016

Given how much time I spend in and around the City and the Southbank, I was surprised that High Timber, with its central location, spectacular views, great quality food and some of the world’s best wines, had escaped my notice.

Its website promised the winning combination of founders from Jordan Wine Estate – the most awarded in Stellenbosch, South Africa – London’s most experienced South African restaurateur, Neleen Strauss, and food from up-and-coming chef Mircel McSween. What’s more, its Instagram pics are consistently mouth-watering – always a good sign.

Having not visited South Africa for several years, I was excited to see how High Timber added a South African touch to modern British Food, not to mention tasting the country’s finest premium wines.

Due to its location on the ‘secret’ High Timber Street on the Thames’ North Bank, this isn’t somewhere you’re likely to stumble upon without knowing it was there. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I took a wrong turn and had to double back to find it.

On arrival, I immediately saw the appeal of its location – next to the Millennium Bridge, it overlooks the Tate Modern and Globe Theatre. Where to sit was clearly a no brainer – with this spectacular view, it had to be alfresco. That’s not to say that the interior isn’t charming, particularly the wine-related memorabilia on the walls and its private dining room inside the red wine cellar. The friendly staff hit the perfect balance of being attentive but not intrusive and, on the whole, diners were predominantly business people.

The menu had so many wonderfully tempting dishes it was almost impossible to choose so we opted to taste as many as possible. The White Tomato Gazpacho with sundried cherry tomato, brioche and basil oil (£6.95), Grilled Mackerel with gooseberries, hazelnuts, dressed beetroot and horseradish (£8.95) and Biltong Croquettes with peppadew ketchup (£7.50) were fresh and tasty.

The Gin Cured Sea Trout with shaved fennel and dill stole the show – that is, until the Seared Foie Gras & Beef Carpaccio with truffle, parmesan and croutes (£12.50) arrived. It’s hardly a surprise this melt-in-the-mouth dish is one of the most popular among diners.

By the time our mains arrived we were already satisfied but the Sirloin Steak and HT chips (£19.50 for 200g, £24.50 for 250g or £35.00 for 350g) and Five Spiced Duck Breast with peas, broad beans, pistachio yogurt and shiso cress (£19.50) were too good to pass up and we polished them off in a flash. Accompanying the mains, the Sesame Snow Peas and Caramelised Onions with Chilli (£3.75) were simple and delicious. Dessert continued to impress: we enjoyed a decadent Malted Chocolate Tart with Honeycomb Ice Cream to finish.

In a restaurant with over 1,000 different wines in its extensive cellar, including some of the world’s finest and rarest vintages, it would be impossible to pick out the best. Suffice to say, wine connoisseurs won’t be disappointed yet novices won’t feel uncomfortable as the staff are by no means condescending. Bottles range from £23 upwards.

My experience at High Timber was a whirlwind romance – having never heard of it, I’d fallen head over heels during one evening. Whether you’re looking for a business meal or an alternative to Southbank’s tourist hotspots, High Timber might be hidden but is worth seeking out!

Melissa

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