Scandanavian influenced dishes in a stylish and cosy Michelin starred restaurant - superb lunch value
A very welcome return to this restaurant after numerous years to bring back up to date. The restaurant is much the same in look and feel from 2010 which is modern, light and wooden panelled with a very nice bar area. Lunch is still the best option for value for money with the set menu lunch coming in at £33.50 for the 3 course lunch menu, but with all the extras this turned out to be essentially an 8 course menu in total hence being one of the best value for money Michelin starred lunches available still to this day. Interesting to see was the amuse bouche that is essentially the same from 7 years ago, as was the concept of the nibbles and Scandinavian favourites (such as the skyr) but otherwise the menu was still as creative. Certainly modern, with a couple of moments that were more style than huge flavour, but fun none the less. Definitely recommended for lunch to see whether you would be happy to go the whole nine yards for a more expensive evening meal.
Nibbles came in the form of crisps of potato, squid ink and parmesan, cod skin and Skyer yoghurt with parsley and chives & star anise as a novel and pleasing way to start (particularly the cod skin). Spanish oils from the North and South of Spain with the scorching climate of the south of Spain producing an oil lighter in colour and perhaps a little softer in flavour.
The amuse bouche of tomato gazpacho with tomato snow was virtually identical from 7 years ago and still as refreshing with its basil and lemon grass and this time served in a shellfish. For starters I opted for salmon with mustard skyr, cumin powder, sorrel snow, sorrel, pickled cucumber and rye bread. The semi-wild salmon (caught from Scottish lochs and placed straight in to ice containers and moved by train immediately to London) was beautifully soft and not too oily. The salmon itself was cooked only slightly (to retain moisture and to not lose too much protein that will escape as a result) and the blow-torched to help tighten and pull together. For all the effort however, it definitely needed the other elements to bring it more to life in flavour; the mustard skyr with dill was lovely and thank god for the pickled cucumber which gave it the general lift it needed.
The Elwy valley Welsh lamb shoulder, was served with spring onions, and heritage carrots – this was a visually pleasing show, with the saddle parts of the lamb being smoked at the table utterly succulent tender saddle lamb. However, for all the visuals, the lamb saddles were not as smokey as the picture suggested at all, but they were utterly tender to the bite. The shoulder of lamb was far more successful in flavour return.
Pre-dessert was a clove and ginger sabayon with sorrel granita and this was actually a very good combination. The sabayon made with yolks, wine and sugar gave a rich and sweet quality to the earthy and icy granita and was an original and fresh transition. The main dessert was not the house speciality of skyr but the set menu lunch version with sweetened skyr yoghurt, granola, melon and meadow sweet. The granita was again a mix of earthy, creaminess compared to most desserts and the yoghurt worked in a rich way that seemed somehow healthy at the same time. A take-away bag of petit four completed an impressive set menu lunch with some definitely good hits on return.
I would say that this is still a text book example of how Michelin starred dining can be enjoyed with not too much to fear in a stylish but relaxed environment where the staff were accommodating, not too formal and with an extremely reasonable £38.81 final price tag all in including service for 8 courses. It isn’t at the top of the 1 Michelin starred family as lunch menus go for overall impact, but you cannot argue with the value for money and the food was certainly not offensive at the same time. Recommended for anyone that wishes to have a peek at modern and fine dining without breaking the bank.
Food Grade: 74%
This is brilliant safe bet of a Michelin starred restaurant, which I regularly recommend owing to it ticking so many boxes. The design of it is stylish and not too formal but with a very relaxed feel – an absence of white table cloths replaced by simple, wooden tables and a pleasant bar area with one of the most reasonably priced set menus for lunch make it an extremely good option. The innovative nature of the dishes, freshness of the food, fun elements that are thrown in and the superb value for money at lunch, combined with the fact that you can hear yourself think make this perfect for a suggestion for catch ups or business meetings a like. Diners in the evening should not forget their wallet, so lunch is a much more reasonable option and would cater for almost any situation.
Food Grade: 75%
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