A 6 course lunch. Some would say it’s greedy, gluttonous, wasteful even. I say it’s a perfect indulgence. You pay your £90 to see Madonna in concert at the O2, or to see Arsenal play in Highbury, whatever luxury you see fit. I’ll spend the same 3 hours enjoying the culinary highs and lows, the curiosities, the matched drinks, savouring every bite, anxiously awaiting the next, and tenderly arranging the first bite on my fork, before discovering what Nuno Mendes and his team has decided to put on my plate.
Of course, if you’re reading this, I expect you’re of a similar mindset to me, but I find myself justifying these jaunts frequently, to wide eyed friends, family and acquaintances. Why not, I say? I work hard for it, and I love it. But… you’re putting on weight (that’s my mother talking). I know, I know, I’ll deal with that later. After my 6 course lunch. Really, I will. I must!
Like the first time, we chose the number of courses, but had no clue what would arrive. We chose the drink matches, as they had lent so much to the menu last time.
We started at the bar, a little quiet and dark for me, with a glass of one of my favourite proseccos, Bisol Jeio. We moved to the bright restaurant, and were told that we would start with the amuses and they would take approximately 20 minutes. Very precise, and I liked it.
They arrived swiftly and we progressed through them. The service was charming and swift, they have definitely ironed out any pre-existing service issues. The first amuse was house sashimi. At first bite I thought, unusual! The sashimi was marinated quite heavily. The edamame on top were deliciously sweet and crisp. We realised quite quickly that this wasn’t fish at all. But what was it? We think melon. How interesting! It was lovely and interesting, what would come next?
Now before I go further, I should warn you I took no notes so this is all from memory. That was silly, but I really just wanted to enjoy it. Charred broad beans were fresh and small broad beans served in the pod. THey were resting on a bright and piquant creamy indulgence, with pea shoots peeking out the top, and served on top of some breadcrumbs. Tasty, charming and pretty as a picture. I loved it.
My coconutty friend from the last time, Thai Explosion II arrived next. I am still not enamoured with it, but the others enjoyed it.
Some more of that lovely, umami packed butter with chicken skin and jamon with hot crispy bread fresh from the oven arrived before we embarked on our courses.
The first course of Tomatoes with Water and Strawberries was fresh and sparked with summer. It tasted like a strawberry gazpacho. It was lovely.
Roast Beetroot, Ash Goats Curd and Pumpkin Seeds was a surprisingly traditional combination of ingredients, but was pretty and tasted great. Little golden and red beetroots dotted the plate, cosying up to rugged ash goats curd as they did.
Braised Salmon Skin and Fried Aubergine was the least convincing dish for me. Confit salmon nestled under a ceiling of floppy fish skin, and was surrounded by one of my favourite things, fish roe. I love that fishy bubble wrap, every bite a mini salty sea infused explosion of savoury. I could see why the dish would work and the flavours were good, but I didn’t like the texture of the fish skin and it killed the dish for me.
Lemon Sole, Confit Egg, Asparagus and Tapioca was a delight. Egg yolks are possibly one of my favourite things in this world, and confited, well swoon. The tapioca was infused with basil and coconut and was served on top of the egg yolk so that it looked like a bubbly excited egg yolk. The fish was perfect and the asparagus fresh and crisp and unchallenging, it played a rare supporting role. Loved it.
Pork Loin with Langoustine and Rye was perfect. It really was. Every bite was heavenly. The rich iberico pork loin, caressed by the rye folm. The roast langoustine was meaty and rich, the roasted flavour working perfectly with the rye. The onions brightened it. The rioja that was served with it (La Rioja Alta “Vina Arana” Reserva 2001) was one of the most delicious wines that I have had this year. It was the perfect finishing savoury dish, and I would go back for that dish and wine alone.
Lemon and thai basil cleared our palates as before.
Crumbed Polenta, Lemon Paste, Strawberries and Citrus Powder was a lively and bright summer dessert.
Petit fours were once again that wonderful cep truffle and a bouncy and delicious passion fruit marshmallow.
The bill this time was £90 each. Worth it? I think so. The wines were terrific, sadly I was too rushed to write about them today, and the food in the main was very very good. It’s always a surprise, and it’s always delicious. Beautiful, gentle, exciting food. The service is relaxed and professional, and always with a smile. I recommend you go there for lunch and try it. As quickly as you can.