It did. Crucially, not only was the food fabulous, but the experience itself was just as exciting. Sure, we were already a couple of glasses of fizz down when we arrived, but that can’t fully explain just how interesting we found the menu. I would happily have tried pretty much everything on there – and as portion sizes were ‘refined’, I could have made serious inroads.
When the dishes arrived, we collectively gasped and cooed at each other’s plates. A ‘boudin’ of pheasant – apparently it refers to the shape of the dish – with chanterelles arrived beautifully plated, and accompanied by a waiter flourishing a sauce jug of smooth, creamy, chestnut velouté. And a soft-poached duck egg with bresaola cured beef, black truffle and red wine didn’t jump out at me on the menu, yet it was probably the best dish of the night. The combination of the salty meat, rich sauce and sticky egg was bold and rich, exemplifying the restaurant’s innovative use of quality ingredients.
Main courses were presented precisely, yet with great flair. The grilled rib eye and short rib of beef with marrow was meltingly tender, to the extent that the majority of a forkful ended up on the tablecloth on its way across the table for me to sample. Then I tried the caramelised shoulder of suckling pig, and words (almost) escaped me. The accompanying black cabbage and hazelnuts added a phenomenal depth of flavour, with apple introducing a sweetness that cut through the rich saltiness of the crisp crackling.
A restaurant of this calibre brings people together; it’s impossible not to want to try every dish on the table. My partner’s brother and I have never been particularly close, yet in this environment it suddenly became acceptable to insist I try a spoonful of his chestnut velouté. And his soufflé. And his dessert wine. The service also induced a warm fuzzy feeling. The restaurant was full and lively, yet the staff were confident and incredibly attentive, albeit subtly so. You couldn’t help but feel relaxed.
At £45 for three courses and wine at about £35 a bottle it’s not a cheap evening out, but in comparison to other starred establishments it’s doable for a very special occasion. Serious hints have already been dropped for my birthday. Now just to convince my partner that every year is a milestone occasion.
Tel: 020 8747 1836
3-7 Devonshire Road, London W4 2EU