Claridges' new (2020) flagship restaurant from Chef Daniel Hulme
Davies and Brook is the new flagship restaurant of Claridges in replacement of Fera by Simon Rogan as of Dec 2019. The new Executive chef is Daniel Humm, a Swiss chef who is famed for being the head of 3 Michelin starred Eleven Madison Park in New York. The restaurant is much the same in look but the kitchen has been completely overhauled along with the menu. The summary of this initial lunch is that the menu remains in similar keeping to that served at Eleven Madison and as a result, simple and elegant looking dishes provide a definite success of flavour combinations and overall effect. I was very pleased with this meal and whilst relatively pricey to other menus, you are in receipt of hospitality and care at a very high end in addition to dishes executed very well. I will definitely be returning as this has much more to offer.
First up, the name of the restaurant: Claridges is located in Mayfair Davies Street intersects Brook Street and hence the name. You can obviously enter Claridges’ front entrance on Brook St, but there is a side entrance to the hotel on Davies St and the restaurant is only metres beyond this entrance so quicker access to the restaurant this way if you are in a hurry.
The head chef day to day is the Estonian Dmitri Magi Estonia who was formerly the soux chef at Eleven Madison Park and is therefore ideally suited to carry on the menus at Claridges with Daniel Humm keeping overwatch periodically (next coming back in March). There is a pleasant twist of fate in that Dmitri informed me that his very first restaurant experience as a young boy was at Claridges. Menus ranged from £72 for three courses, £98 for four courses and £145 for the 7-course tasting menu.
The meal began with shiitake mushroom with daikon (an Eastern radish) and broken rice congee (a form of rice and broth porridge) which was a warming start with a deep mushroom flavour and a lovely perfume of the daikon. Next came golden enoki mushroom salad with Thai vinaigrette. This was served cold, with a fragrant twist. Home made bread in the form of a croissant which skillfully done and served with king oyster mushroom butter (this glaze being on top of the butter) and the Thai mushroom salad turned out to be very good news for cleansing the high-fat content of the bread and butter.
Next came my starter of foie gras. This came with plum and cocoa marinated in cognac. This was delightfully smooth but not as booming in foie gras flavour in comparison to places had such as Le Gavroche, Auberge de l’Ill, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, but overall it had a nice crunch with its base, and plum gel inside. My main gripe with this is that it was simply too heavy on its own and needed bread so I needed to ask the staff for more of the table bread. It was only six minutes or so before the next slice came which is not the end of the world, but there is a difference between this and my experience of brioche top-ups at Per Se in New York.
My main was duck which I was keen to try having tried this dish at Eleven Madison Park itself. The duck is dry-aged for a week with the farmer and then prepared for a further two weeks. It is from Merryfield Farm in Devon with Claridges’ supplier being Creedy Carver. Somehow, this breed is called ‘British Peking Duck’. Whatever the terminology, this was an absolutely stunning duck with crispy honey & lavender and cumin spices (giving an almost smokey quality) glazed skin. The duck fat was beautifully rendered, with spices of and perfectly pickled daikon and spiced rhubarb under the supporting onion. The sauce to accompany was a citrus jus with lime, lemon and grapefruit and was beautifully viscous, sticky and tangy. With the duck quality being so good as well, it is simply hard to fault this dish and aside from the fruit used within the jus being slightly different at the elder sister restaurant, it is also hard to see how this is different from that served at 3 Michelin starred Eleven Madison Park.
Dessert of milk and honey was very well done. A liquid shortbread base emulsified with oil, honey made with brandy was served with honey ice cream, a milk ice cream and tuille of bee pollen and pollen on top with salt to offset the sweet. A lovely pairing of flavours with gentle application and if you’re going to have milk and honey, this is a fairly authoritative manner in its execution.
The final bill for the three courses with water and service came to £97 and whilst this is quite an expensive 3 course a la carte, one is gaining a commanding level of dishes overall in very good hospitality. Top ups, table cleaning and napkin re-laying were all spot on with calm and friendly service all the way through. This is a slick and welcoming restaurant and a strong reinvention of the restaurant in Claridges. There is a commanding style here and I look forward to doing more dishes on a return visit.
Food Grade: 83%
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