Friday, 31 May 2013

The Fat Duck Revisited

Having had the opportunity to eat at The Fat Duck once before on the final day of the a la carte menu being served, 4 years ago, I was happy to again get the chance to visit Bray and this time try the tasting menu.

We really outstayed our welcome this time, leaving at about 5:30, the hoover was out in preparation for the dinner sitting but they were so hospitable, even allowing us a sneak peek into the kitchen on our way out.

We were a group of 6, it was Aymeric's birthday and soon to be Bel's and we went all out and had the wine pairings too.  This is obviously a rare treat kind of a meal and here's what we ate.

Nitro poached aperitifs, gin and tonic for me, vodka and lime sour and campari soda also available, these are little meringues, frozen with liquid nitrogen at your table.  I was the first to try and stupidly expected it to be hot, it was obviously freezing cold and smoke started coming out of my mouth as I chewed, much to the hilarity of the rest of the table, you have to eat it quickly so I couldn't take a pic.

Next up was an amuse of beetroot meringue filled with horseradish cream, it looked like a little whoopie pie.  Tasted exactly as described, very clever and pretty.  Neat little plate too.

Red cabbage gazpacho with pommery grain mustard ice cream was next.  I had this last time and again the flavours are so prominent, it tastes really fresh and clean. 

Then another familiar dish, one we had on our previous trip, jelly of quail crayfish cream, chicken liver parfait, oak moss and truffle toast.  This is the point when dry ice floods over the table bringing with it the aroma of a forest. 

Now for the thing I was most looking forward to trying, the snail porridge with iberico ham and shaved fennel.  The dish Heston is famed for and it was brilliant, look how green it is!

Roasted foie gras next with rhubard, braised kombu and crab biscuit.  This is really, really excellent.

Then came the Mad hatters tea party, exactly as seen on the telly, a little glass cup into which you pour your own water with a pocket watch stock 'teabag' making mock turtle soup, accompanied by a toast sandwich, so beautiful.

Sound of the the sea was next, a little tray of various sashimi fish with sand and sea foam, this was the dish I was most indifferent about, the only one I'd say I actually didn't like.  It's gimmicky, with the sound of waves lapping on the shore played on an mp4 player to each diner, I disliked the textures, the sand is very convincing and quite grainy, I wasn't a fan, but ate it all of course.

The dish that everyone complains hasn't changed in the last 10 years follows, salmon poached in liquorice gel.  I actually quite liked it.  It comes with artichokes, vanilla mayonnaise, grapefruit and trout roe.  Remembering it now, this was actually very good and again I loved the plate.

Another fave on the day was the main course of saddle of venison with beetroot soubise and risotto of spelt and umbles.  It was actually the latter component, served in individual pots that elevated this dish, the soubise was a tad sweet for me but the meat was delicious and the risotto was incredible.

Hot & Iced tea was, as before, a marvel, how do they do it?!  We all pondered that, me loudly, and one of the many waiters told me I was wrong, they always seemed to be listening to what we were saying, perhaps after a few wine pairings, we were louder than we realized, but it felt, at times, as though there were hidden microphones.  Paranoia!  Desserts began with galette of rhubard which was another accomplished and well rounded dish. 

Then came the BFG, I've no doubt previously mentioned that I am not the hugest fan of chocolate combined with fruit, so the rhubarb was much more my kind of pud, but I did enjoy the black forest gateau still.  It's undeniably attractive.

And onto the whiskey wine gums, which are lethal little brutes, I was already tipsy and these are, in varying degrees, laced with whiskies of the world.  I'm not usually a whiskey drinker but the difference in the flavours is remarkable.

Last billed dish is "like a kid in a sweet shop" which is a lovely touch, something you can take away with you to enjoy later, I ate my baccy on the train ride home.  The queen of hearts (pictured top) bakewell tart in playing card form was outstanding, seen below in an envelope, the fudge wrapper was edible and the little chocolate thing was filled with orange.  Loved it all.

We also had cheese and these wines, I was most psyched to try Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-Pape but was slightly miffed that it was a white variety.  Interesting to see Sake on the list too, the wines were all lovely and perfect pairings, naturally.  That's more even than I am qualified to say.

We marveled at the skill and sheer number of components to each dish, such expertise and wizardry, this is exactly what I love about fine dining.  Having visited before, I knew what to expect of course but I wasn't disappointed and I'll never tire of this kind of eating.  I would recommend dining here to anybody who considers him or herself a fan of food, you'll probably still like it even if you don't, oh, and you'll need a spare £400 to hand.

The Fat Duck
High Street

The Fat Duck on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

April/May Round Up

Been a while since I've blogged.  It's been a good April/May but I've been lazy so I'll do a little round up of things I've eaten recently, or I'll never catch up.

I popped in for an unplanned lunch after walking by and seeing the selection of foccacia sandwiches on display in the window.  It's a decent place, not too busy, think charcuterie meat platters and a focus on quality Italian ingredients with rustic, no fuss presentation.

This board was £10 and we shared it between 2 so was a bargain lunch, served with bread.  We paid extra for the olives.

Red Lion & Sun
I've moved recently, back to the Tufnell Park area and at last ventured to the Red Lion & Sun, where I've wanted to go for eons.  It's in Highgate village so not technically our local, but we can be there in 20 minutes if we get a wriggle on.  When walking there on a particularly warm day with a 7/10 hangover, so a bit slower in pace, we were a bit late and they were ever so nice about it.

I had the lamb shank, we were in for Sunday lunch, and it was amazing.  THE best roast I've had in London, sorry Pig & Butcher, they all come with Yorkshires, who wants a roast without one?  Bel's beef was brilliant too, there was a bill mix up, but it was sorted quickly and in all, it was lovely.  I'll be back.  We also had puds, sticky toffee pudding and rhubarb crumble.

Lots of children and dogs were present, but don't let that put you off.  They have 2 gardens and often host street food vans, like Mama Wangs most recently, I'm still annoyed at myself for not going.

When Mac Met Cheese
The Endurance is hosting a mac & cheese pop up.  I've spent a lot of evenings in The Endurance, and mac cheese is my absolute favourite dish, so no brainer, I was there last Friday.  They're there for 6 weeks I think, and this was their first week.

Couple of options on offer, we all went for Mum's classic, I expected it to be topped with tomatoes and rocket, which you can add at no extra cost, but it was mixed in.  Not sure about that.  This is satisfying after a few drinks, and great value for £6 a pop, but it's pretty bog standard, no frills stuff.

We shared some macancinis which were great, flecked with jalapenos and really quite spicy and had to try the deep fried oreos, but we ate them after the main event and it all came served together so they were a bit cold and past their best.  If you want them, order them later.

Mele e Pere
For Nibs' birthday we tried this Italian Trattoria style restaurant on Brewer Street.  The space is massive downstairs and it was practically empty on a Saturday lunchtime, so they don't seem to be doing too well.  I was really happy with my dish of gnocchi with clams, prawns and samphire, the sauce was great, I'm going through a bit of a gnocchi phase at the moment and ordering it whenever I see it.  This one was flavoured with squid ink.  Loved it.

We shared loads of other dishes, meatballs, calamari, arancini and a bread basket, all were enjoyable and good value for money, the tomato bread was particularly good.  Whilst not being wowed, we were all happy.  Think we paid about £20 each, and we had a couple of cocktails too.

Terry's Cafe
On the actual day of Nibs' birthday we went to her local fave on Great Suffolk Street.  Terry's is a family run cafe, now headed up by Austin, son of Terry.  Their breakfasts are pretty epic and we had the whole restaurant for the evening.  They were offering a variety of pies or toad in the hole all served with mash and veg.  Nice home cooked food and really sweet service.  Get there early for breakfast as they run out of bubble and squeak, and you'll want to try that.

Dean Street Townhouse
Another Sunday roast, this one recommended by Art, and it was great.  Em and I were so beaten, and wanting to save room for pub.   We did 2 courses for £24 and shared a starter of smoked salmon with pickled cucumber then both opted for the roast chicken, served with literally ALL the trimmings and cauliflower cheese which made me so happy.  We shared the dessert too, bread & butter pudding.

The room is a little lacking in atmosphere, a bar lines the wall, with the most ridiculous stalls that are so tightly packed together, making it almost impossible to maneuver in or out.  Tables are quite close too, so conversation is a tad hushed.  Not sure I'll hurry back, but the roast is good, definitely filling, go hungry.

The Bull & Last
I've blogged about this pub before, and it's probably one of my favourite places in London, so I'm blogging about it again, because they do breakfast!  I had the homemade baked beans with ham hock topped with fried duck egg on sourdough.  It was brilliant, watercress was unnecessary though.  The menu is short but well put together, the coffee is pretty good too.  This was under a tenner, then I had a bloody mary.  Bull & Last's still got it.

72 Old Compton St

Tuscanic Merende on Urbanspoon

The Red Lion & Sun
25 North Road

The Red Lion and Sun on Urbanspoon

When Mac Met Cheese @ The Endurance
 90 Berwick St

When Mac Met Cheese on Urbanspoon

Mele e Pere
46 Brewer Street

Mele e Pere on Urbanspoon

Terry's Cafe
158 Great Suffolk Street

Terry's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Dean Street Townhouse
69-72 Dean St

Dean Street Townhouse on Urbanspoon

The bull & Last
 118 Highgate Road
Kentish Town (ish)

Bull & Last on Urbanspoon