I like a chef who looks after his customers. To the extent of coming out of the kitchen with a rolling-pin during a riot, even.
And the chef in charge here, Brett Graham, is a star. What is it about Aussie chefs? Caravan, Granger & Co and now this. And I wasn’t even trying.
Tip: if you want to get a reservation, go and see them. I’d really given up all hope of getting a table before 2013, having tried a few times without success. And you wouldn’t ever drop in on the off-chance. It’s said that they turned away Brangelina. How much do we love that? So I was passing and thought I’d ask.
And they had told us that there would only be a tasting menu available, because it was those dead days between Christmas and new year. And the fact that we could actually get in made us worry that they might not be at their best. We’d had a bit of a sub-standard experience a year ago at another normally reliable place and we were a bit wary.
And so, on yet another rainy day, we turned up at 2.30. The immediate impression is one of comfort and the room is a bright, well-proportioned space, decorated in muted browns and beige. Comfortable seats, good lighting, it’s a grown up, sophisticated place, which manages to remain informal and friendly at the same time as making you feel you’re somewhere special. Not dissimilar to The Square, its sister restaurant, but less formal. Maybe it’s the location.
And the room reeks money. Euro/Notting Hill/hedge-fund type money. And every other table was full of people for whom English was not their first language. Welcome to the new international city-state of London. Unless you venture out of the capital, it’s easy to forget that nowhere else in England is quite like this.
And they make a proper kir. Not the usual teaspoonful of cassis; a proper slug, so that it’s a deep red colour. And a large glass. A good start.
We chose the 8-course tasting menu, £85 – if you add wine to each course, £155. I didn’t because I was with C, who was driving and I prefer a partner in crime.
And this was a polished performance. I’m not going to do the foodblogger dissection of each course because I can’t do it justice. You can get that on some of the 64 other blogposts on the Urbanspoon website. Popular, this.
As you can see, each course had a number of components, textures and colours. Each worked beautifully together and it was all seasonal and unusual enough to be really memorable.
And there was nothing that didn’t work, or that I would have changed.
Particularly standout were
* The scallop ceviche with frozen horseradish.
* The amuse-bouche of fois gras and quince
* The quail – delicate and moist
* The milk-fed lamb. Possibly the best I’ve ever tasted. Succulent and rich.
* The apricot mille-feuille
I noticed that we had stopped talking over the dessert. Not that we’d run out of conversation, I mean I know we’re married but it wasn’t one of those silent dinners. It was just that we were both, for once, completely absorbed by the food. The pastry was crisp and light. The apricot delicate and there seemed to be a hint of rosewater. It was outstanding. Memorable. The pastry chef is a genius.
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves..