Thursday, 8 July 2010

A machine for dining: The Paramount

The entrance, graphic with copper

The menu

360 degree bar...stunning

Tom Dixon design in the red room

Some kind of meat thing but all the dishes were imbued with a glossy rosy tinge, the light bouncing off the laquered interiors of the Red Room.

Risotto with summer truffle

A gorgeous roquefort soufflé


The Paramount restaurant, located at the top of Centrepoint, previously a members club, now open to the public, possesses the modernist elan of New York.
On the top floor there is a 360 degree narrow bar wrapped around the building, from which you can enjoy a view of London that is incomparable, above all in the golden dusk of good July weather.
The dining room itself, designed by Tom Dixon, is stylish and atmospheric; it reflects and updates the late 60s office skyscraper 'international' architecture to perfection.
I was, I confess, on a freebie. I, unlike all these other bloggers, don't get offered many blagging opportunities, mainly because I rarely review restaurants; with running my own part-time restaurant, I hardly have time. But it's nice to have relief from my own cooking, see what others are doing out there, nick a few ideas!
I'm a peasant: I believe in simple food, good ingredients, round plates, unfussy presentation. Here at the Paramount the plates are oblong, glass, or slates but this is acceptable because it goes with the concept. The food is equally 'modern'; not my style but appropriately architectural. We were sat in the Red Room.
My amuse bouche and starter were great: a cappuccino of asparagus velouté, a simple roquefort souffle.
My main was ordinary: butternut squash tortellini. Doubtful the pasta was home made. The five tortellini were queued up like soldiers in a firing line.
I should have ordered the beautifully cooked sea bass which had a lovely sauce and a spoonful of caviar.
I disagreed with the puddings. Intellectually. Structurally. Each had at least four tasters: a dusting of something, a quenelle of something else, a teensy contrasting triangle of this, a rondelle of that. This wasn't food, it was a painting by Kandinsky. I had a strawberry bavarois; a wavy squiggle of oblong custard. Around it were dotted dollops of lemon curd, strawberries cut in half, some dehydrated berry...
Very clever but a little too hyper-modern for my tastes. I slagged off Masterchef winner Dhruv Baker because of his silly plating. Little rows of carrots. You can tell these chefs aren't gardeners: where you plant in odd numbers, in organic formations, as if authored by Mother Nature. It strikes me as very male, the rigid formal plating schemes you find in restaurants, rather than the maternal plonk of a casually thrown together platter on the table. But it impresses diners; you look at it and think 'I can't do that'.
This is a place to take a date, get that job promotion, wow the clients. Howard Roark would take Dominique Francon to dinner at the Paramount, and he'd make her pay the approximately £120 bill for two.


  1. Hmmm, the souffle sounds delish, and that view is amazing, but do you think maybe there is some reverse corrolation (?) between the impressiveness of the room/view, and the food? The desserts sounded lovely on the menu but I have never understood why chefs go to all the trouble to make some devine item, sauce for instance.... then give you a tiny schmear of it you have to practically lick off the plate? Even from the colonies I know that isnt a good look at a resturant.....I did a web course recently, and asked my tutor how all this ranking biz worked, even techo he seemed to think it was a bit "hit & miss'...told me not to worry as probably only my Mum reading anyway (yep, thanks...)

  2. More wonderful photos. I am with Plum Kitchen about the inverse correlation between the location and the food. I don't think I could be bothered to hike into town, pay £60 for that; although I suppose if you take off the Eye entrance charge (£16), it's not quite so dear!

    I'm with you on smears and oblong plates and such nonsense. I eat not I art! And as for four different tastes, in odd little smears *sigh* it's not restricted to the fellas! And oblong plates are the hallmark of the OCD; you will find a spotlessly clean home, where the tablecloth is freshly laundered (and unused), with everything exactly geometrically arranged. Life's too short!

  3. Thanks for your comments.
    Plum: the point I was making about the Wikio list is that two weeks ago my blog was number 950 then it was in the top 20!
    Chumbles: Levi Strauss has a whole theory about rounds and oblongs.
    Primitive man had round houses, worshipped earth mother goddesses...venus of willendorf. Whereas modernity was all about the oblong...rectangular and square houses...and the gods became men!


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