Another Central London destination but one where a few of us had fond memories of, and so hopes were high! With a warm, friendly welcome and an impressive entrance it felt good to be back. The separate bar and seating area was actually part of St. Ermin’s hotel and had a feeling of cosy plushness. More importantly though they had one TV with the football on! A first for BTNDC but it made us happy! Happiness soon turned to belly laughter, maybe a little out of character for our surroundings, when another round of Peronis and one ‘love is in the air’ cocktail was ordered! What can I say! I like Raspberries and Champagne!
With the arrival of our tardy fifth member, guess who!?, we sat in the dining area which had quite an eloquent setting. We were now ready to embark on the Head Chef, Adam Handling’s 11 course taster menu! Of course with the wine pairing…. which was becoming second nature to this previously culinary uneducated group of friends.
Having had the courses explained to us we instantly felt cheated! The first 5 courses were actually ‘snacks’ ….. See the Pass from two weeks ago….. That’s a snack course! Again they were served with an English Sparkling wine, this time a Squerryes 2010 from Westerham…. Very nice.
The Crab Doughnuts were demolished instantly…. Pity only one each!
Unfortunately the courses weren’t served in order which added to our concerns…. 5 guys, most with forms of OCD, we need order!
Missing the chicken we went into the Beer with Beef Tartare, shavings of yolk and chilli. Well…. It tasted dead like ‘Pickled Monster Munch!’ Who doesn’t like Pickled Monster Munch! …..
The Beetroot, beetroot and more beetroot was surprisingly gorgeous! It was a sugar tuile filled with beetroot panacotta. Slightly acidic through the middle but certainly to everyone’s liking. ( shown below…. One each I’m afraid)
Next was warm bread with chicken butter and tiny bit of oil. Distinctly average! (see the Pass again! for comparison) and the chicken butter was actually not great.
One memorable moment however was learning about ‘Umami’….. We all know that our senses use ‘sweetness, sourness, bitterness and saltiness’ to distinguish between tastes… But the Japanese added Umami as the fifth member to explain savoury taste. Loosely translated as ‘pleasant savoury taste’ , it’s often used when tasting glutamate, aka MSG. Learn something new everyday!
Finally our last snack was brought out…… A chicken liver parfait. Not for me, but to quote Shaf….. ‘Best thing I’ve ever tasted!!’ (Or was I quoting the drink there???)
To Mit’s horror the fish course was one he simply couldn’t attempt. Served in a quite beautiful Sea Urchin shell, scallops, crab & urchin in a lemongrass veloute. Extremely noteworthy. I’m sure that the wine here complimented it well but having previously asked for the wine flight to be written down for us for future reference, but never actually received, unfortunately I can’t say here what it was and is another thing highlighting the difference in service and attention to detail of the London restaurants Vs the country experiences.
A well presented celeriac ‘bomb’ didn’t induce much initial excitement, however with the yolk explosion it was a good bang for the buck for most. With the truffle shavings and hint of apple it was a solid course.
With Mit and I shuddering at the mere thought of the next course…. Chicken liver mouse and nitrogen chicken liver…. the others were left to fight it out for ours. They loved it whilst we just admired the presentation and effort that must have gone into it. I did pick and nick the pickled mushrooms though…. Super tasty.
Wild bass, sherry and spring onion divided opinions. The sherry was somewhat over powering, the spring onion was sweet and sour tasting whilst the sea bass was…. well fishy!
Finally a proper meaty course! Beef with pumpkin, treacle and carrots. Beef was much needed and yummy. Nothing exceptional but no complaints with 5 empty plates.
Winding down now we were served passion fruit and rhubarb candy floss! Wow! Colour explosion! Mit was literally a kid in a sweetshop! Completely appealing to our actual mental ages…… Nice touch.
Last but not least was the white chocolate, milk, olive oil, yuzu with rice. With a tart citrus taste adding to the dish’s complexity it proved to be a worthy ending to an enjoyable night.
But this is BTNDC! We don’t stop there! A few Japanese Nikki whiskies later and another surprise desert dish each; chocolate, cheese and more candy floss…… we were finally done.
Surprisingly very good value for money, this was a good, solid dining experience. Nothing special… Yes a couple exceptional courses but normal and good is not what BTNDC looks for unfortunately…. And makes it very hard to write an interesting blog!
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