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Chips are down when technology is needed.

Byline: Paul Fulford

COMPUTERS and I are not natural best mates.

They're a necessary evil at work and I admit to using them during my leisure time to insult people on Twitter and to keep up to date with football, cricket and racing. But I find them irritating, baffling and a strain on my poor old eyes.

So do I want to use a computer when I sit down for a meal? No.

Which is why I wasn't overjoyed when I was handed the wine list at the newly-opened Hotel La Tour - in the form of an electronic device I believe to be called a "tablet".

The idea, apparently, is for the menu also eventually to feature on these machines so that punters can choose wines to complement the nosh they've ordered. Which seems to me to say something about the hotel, which has embraced modernity at the expense of comfort.

There's a corporate feel about the place, with lots of grey in its decor. Lots of gaping space. The result is that it feels a little like a business lounge at one of the larger international airports. The ambition of its Aalto restaurant is to attract diners who aren't hotel residents.

But while the staff are friendly and welcoming, the space in which the restaurant is situated is less so. But perhaps that's unfair because of the roadworks currently outside the windows, though it's doubtful that Moor Street Queensway would be a pleasant sight even without earth-moving equipment and teams of yellow-jacketed workmen.

The menu - to which the renowned chef Marcus Wareing has lent his name - comprises modern British classics.

The shrimp cocktail with which I began was disappointing - unimpressive seafood in an unimpressive salad rendered unpleasant by chunks of brown bread that had grown soggy mixed with the leaves.

My guest ate smoked salmon and sourdough, but had to ask for a slice of lemon. She wasn't exactly thrilled by the dish.

Main courses were far better, however. The batter on the cod I ate was beautifully light and crisp and the fish within meaty, moist and flavoursome. The chips - cooked three times - were chunky, crunchy and good.

But the marrowfat peas - a type of pea I adore - came as a sort of sharp, light green mayonnaise, which disappointed me.

My friend's cock-a-leekie pie, though, hit the target as superior comfort food. And we both greatly enjoyed Jaffa Cake influenced pudding of orange sponge, chocolate and cream.

Maybe when I grow used to the 21st century, I'll like the place better.

Verdict How much? pounds 77 with wine Child friendly? Yes Vegetarians? Fine Disabled access? No problem Go back? Perhaps


Corporate feel: The Aalto main dishes were great but the feel of the place is very 'airport business lounge'
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:May 11, 2012
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