Lady Barbara Judge discovers a fantastic new addition to London Victoria’s evolving dining scene in the shape of Aster, a Nordic-inspired café, deli and restaurant…
Recently, London’s Victoria has been going through a magical metamorphosis, and those of us who live nearby are the beneficiaries. The dining destinations in particular have undergone quite a transformation, so I was delighted when my son and daughter-in-law suggested we go to Aster, at the Nova development, which had only been open about a week before we visited for Sunday brunch.
The head chef is a woman – always a good thing in my mind! Her name is Helena Puolakka, and she is Finnish so, unsurprisingly, the food at Aster is inspired by the Nordic countries of Norway, Sweden and Finland, as well as France. Her Nordic-French cuisine is influenced both by her heritage and the more classic French techniques she has refined over her exceptional career.
The establishment is vast – 10,000 square feet in all. Downstairs is a café designed in French style, with a big marble counter and copper fixtures, and a bustling feel about it. It serves brasserie-type food all day and sells delicious-looking takeaway specialities as well.
Upstairs, which was our destination, is where the restaurant serves elegant food with simple ingredients in complex preparations. At weekends, there is an interesting brunch which, for an extra £10, is accompanied by all the prosecco you can drink.
As there were three people in our party, we set about to try as many of the tempting dishes as we could, and it soon became clear that this was going to be the only meal we required that day. The winner of the egg dishes was Egg Victoria, which was poached egg with lobster, seeded rye and truffled hollandaise. We also loved the Greenland prawns with citrus and chili.
Surprisingly for me, as I am not in love with meat, the fl at iron steak with café de paris butter and remoulade, cooked perfectly rare, was also a true treat, as was the venison sausage with caramelised onions and lingonberries – this is a Nordic restaurant after all!
These delicious dishes only just surpassed the more typically Nordic, but wonderful, herrings and cured salmon, and diced meats, which included reindeer salami, caraway pork belly and hot smoked reindeer. It was a Sunday feast fit for a Viking, but remember who is writing this – I am truly a dessert person, so we also allowed ourselves one dessert between the three of us, which was well chosen. It was almond cake Runeberg with blood orange and lemon meringue – an excellent choice – and we almost ordered a second because one between three was certainly not enough of this luxurious combination.
As this bounteous brunch concluded, it was clear that this new addition to our neighbourhood was extremely welcome and that future visits must be made soon to try breakfast, lunch and dinner, before the crowds discover this delicious destination.
Lady Barbara Judge is currently the Chair of the Institute of Directors and has held many posts across the corporate and charitable sector, including Chairman of the Pension Protection Fund, commissioner of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and chairman of the UK Atomic Energy Authority. Lady Barbara has always had an abiding love for food, and her frequent international business travels have enabled her to indulge this passion in many top restaurants across the globe. Lady Barbara Judge pays all of her own expenses.