Restaurant Review: Aster

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Carole Hamilton enjoys a taste of Scandinavia – and becomes the number one fan of a rather good chocolate and beetroot pudding  

It’s always fun to be one of the first to try somewhere new and have those great social media bragging rights as someone who has their eye on the next big thing. London is currently enjoying quite a dalliance with Nordic dining, and a hot new contender for the jewel in the crown could very well be Aster in Victoria.

The venue 

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Aster takes the form of a stylish restaurant, bar, café and food shop spread across two floors at the swanky new Nova development – 10,000 sq of restaurants and bars close to Victoria station. It’s part of the ever- expanding D&D Group, and is the domain of Finnish chef Helena Puolakka who oversees a menu of trad Nordic dishes with a nod to her French culinary training.

The food 

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Upstairs in the main restaurant, the mid-priced menu combines the uncomplicated, distinctive avours of Scandinavia with the vibrant produce and ubiquitous love of food found throughout France.

Our lunch starts with a flavour-packed Baltic shell fish broth and Aster-cured salmon with pickled cucumber, accompanied by piles of delicious bread and excellent butter. Melt-in-the-mouth sea bass ‘in paper’ with fennel, olives and tomatoes follows, along with a succulent, perfectly pink duck breast with spiced buckwheat.

For pudding, we tuck into skyr parfait with lemon meringue and a dish of chocolate and smoked beetroot. Although unusual, it’s quite one of the best things I’ve tried so far this year. Aster’s light, reasonably-sized dishes mean you should have room to enjoy three full courses which take your tastebuds on a trip to Scandinavia via rural France. There’s also an interesting range of wine by the glass, and a knowledgeable and very friendly sommelier should you fancy some advice.

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If you have less time or prefer a more informal atmosphere, the buzzing all-day café downstairs serves a variety of lighter dishes along the same lines – think sherry herrings and salmon for breakfast, with open sandwiches, wild reindeer sausages and smorgasbords at lunchtime.

The verdict
This really is an eaterie that has something for everyone, from breakfast through to dinner, spanning the spectrum from casual to fine dining. Looking to get your hygge on at home too? Pick up fish roe and wild berries in the onsite deli.

Price: A la carte, £100 for two. Working lunch menu, £19 for two courses
Where: 150 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 5LB
Reservations: Phone 020 3875 5555 or click here.

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