On arrival, I was greeted graciously and shown to my table, a large 4 seater (for the two of us) facing the rest of the restaurant. The dining room is pretty plush; my heels sunk into the carpets and I felt rather cosseted. My sister hadn't turned up yet, and I was given a bowl of olives. They were flavoursome and crunchy; so far so good.
The set lunch menu consists of two choices per course. All the choices sounded appealing, so I asked my sister to choose whatever she wanted and then I would take the choices she didn't want. In places like these, I think it's best that you try and sample all you can. We were pleasantly surprised when the above pictured amuse bouche was presented to us. It reminded me of a pre-dessert at Launceston Place, presented in the same way. This one was savoury, with a soft poached quail's egg inside which yielded beautifully under the pressure of the teeny tiny spoon, to mix and enrichen a palm heart velouté. Well, at least that's what I think it was; our server's French accent was really thick. The brioche soldier on top made for a good dipping vehicle. "Do you think I could drink the dregs out of the shell?" We were both impressed with it.
The starter was ravioli of scallop, cuttlefish and crab. God knows what was perching on top of it, because for some reason I didn't take a picture of the menu, and I daren't ask the waiter to repeat himself again. This was probably the least favourite of the courses. The filling was rich, the seafood fresh but the pasta wasn't as silky or as light as it could have been.
My main of roasted Cornish silver mullet with turnips, broccoli fricassée and almond sauce was gorgeous. The fish was cooked perfectly and the skin crisp. I'm not a huge fan of almond but it really worked well, lending a richness to the dish. A hit of intense broccoli flavour rounded it off nicely.
Ah, dessert. I'm not particularly bothered with desserts usually, but this one really wowed me and was the best course of the meal.
I ordered the 'Clun Valley Whimberry Clafoutis', wondering what this berry was, but it turns out they're rather like blueberries. They were encased in a light cake, topped with barley malt ice cream and served atop a Earl Grey tea syrup. My god, did this work well. The ice cream was smooth and rich, with just a hint of the barley malt. The syrup was intense and delicious; I found it strange that I liked it so much, as I usually find Earl Grey to be too perfumey for my tastes. On the other side of the table, my sister concurred that her yellow lime tart, topped with a pleasingly crunchy caramel with clove ice cream, was also the star of her meal.
So, for three courses each, a lemonade and service this lunch came to £30 a head. Great value for the quality of the cooking and the attentive (if indecipherable) waiting staff. I'd definitely like to come back for a tasting menu dinner, as the a la carte looked intruiging, but alas, not until I win the lottery. For now, set lunches will do.
29 Maddox Street
London W1S 2PA
020 7629 2999