Sargeant’s Mess is the latest venture from Mark Sargeant, the lauded chef proprietor of the sublime Rocksalt in Folkestone and chef director at Plum and Spilt Milk at the Great Northern Hotel, Kings Cross. Prior to his own ventures, Sargeant was head chef at Gordon Ramsay, Claridge’s from 2001 to 2008. Sargeant’s Mess has a unique position by the Thames next to the Tower of London, overlooking Tower Bridge. It’s an unusual spot to find a restaurant from such a well-known chef but Sargeant has created a top-notch space and menu that will appeal to visitors and locals alike.
Sargeant’s Mess encompasses a restaurant, café and bar and is built almost into the northwest side of Tower Bridge with its cabin-like structure extending past the southern wall of the Tower of London. The main dining room is light and airy with pared-back décor, wooden tables and large windows looking out over the Thames. The restaurant also has a large outdoor terrace, perfect for summer evenings and lazy lunches – get there before the heatwave is over for good.
Sargeant’s Mess is based on well executed British and bistro classics, with a particular focus on seasonal and local produce such as London-smoked salmon and British cheeses. This restaurant is so British, in fact, that you can order a Yorkshire pudding snack plate. As with everything here, it’s done in an elevated and unexpected way: this pudding comes with roast garlic butter.
Starters include classics such as prawn cocktail and mackerel paté as well as smoked pork belly with lettuce and mustard, haggis scotch egg and a herby pressed smoked chicken. When it comes to main meals, fish and seafood is where Sargeant’s menu shines. We opt for his delectable light and crispy version of fish and chips. The fresh poached Scottish salmon with new potato salad is particularly inviting, as is the perfectly cooked whole grilled Cornish plaice with herb butter and a traditional suet pudding with mash, peas and gravy.
If fish is not your thing, there’s also a raft of British crowd-pleasing classics on the menu, including a mean steak, roast chicken and chips, toad in the hole and lamb curry.
Make room for the aforementioned British cheese – this is an excellent option, as Brummell discovered. For those with a sweeter tooth, irresistible classics such as treacle tart, Bakewell tart and dark chocolate mousse await, although the highlight is Sargeant’s Mess – a kind of black forest Eton mess with chocolate meringue, chocolate cream and cherries (someone pass us a spoon).
To wash it all down, Sargeant’s Mess cocktail list is satisfyingly good. We supped on the punchy Gunpowder Dock old fashioned made from bourbon, smoked bitters, brown sugar, bourbon cherry and juice, and a martini made with English gin or vodka. The wine list is reasonable and the restaurant has a number of English wines available including a Three Choirs rosé from Gloucestershire and a Lyme Bay Sandbar made from Bacchus grapes in Devon.
The price for a three-course meal with wine for two people is around £90.
A crowd-pleasing restaurant right by Tower Bridge with exceptional cooking and excellent pedigree.
Sargeant’s Mess, Tower of London, The Wharf, St Katharine’s & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB; sargeantsmess.com