Truthfully, wine bar and restaurant Hithe + Seek is in a bit of a funny spot. While the website marks its location as 60 Upper Thames Street, it’s more specifically based in The Westin Hotel, down a quiet street and on the edge of an underpass in a dark corner of Bank. Without this information, Hithe + Seek can be quite difficult to find, especially as this Mariott branch feels more business than leisure.
When upstairs, however, you can see the method behind the madness thanks to the floor-to-ceiling views looking out over the Thames, bang, smack opposite Shakespeare’s Globe. Come nightfall, sleek, jewel-toned interiors are enhanced by shimmering lights on the water and it all feels very sophisticated.
Hithe + Seek’s passion lies in wine. The wine menu is extensive but cleverly split into two sections: Hithe represents comfort and familiarity, while Seek will challenge those willing to discover something new. This ideology is complemented by the bar’s focus on wine tasting courses and masterclasses, making it more of a destination than somewhere to wander into. With this in mind, we let our server lead the way when it came to libations. A wonderfully personal service, we would recommend either asking for a pairing for the foods you are choosing, or picking the wine pairing menu as a whole.
Fresh and full of flavour, the choice of food is considered and cosmopolitan. Set on small plates, the dishes make for a sophisticated accompaniment to the wine menu and will actually fill you up. You can expect interesting combinations such as venison tartare and pickled mushrooms with smoked egg yolk, topped with ale crisp, or chickpea panisse with grilled aubergine, courgette and apricot harissa.
For us, it had to be the sweet, sticky braised Mangalitza pork belly Bao Bun which oozes out of its doughy captive at a touch, and melts in your mouth. If you love pork belly, it’s an obvious choice that won’t let you down. Then, there’s the grilled Galatian octopus with forbidden rice and saffron aioli: not the biggest portion, but satisfyingly thick and well crisped at the edges for a delicious taste and texture.
All in all, this is a suave spot for those who know a thing or two about wine and are not looking for a budget-conscious experience. When we visited, the atmosphere was a little quiet with mainly guests of the hotel dining, but a DJ has started on Wednesday and Thursday evenings and will bring a different feel to the space.