Kitchen Table 27th Visit for New Year’s Eve Dinner — London (12/2019)

For as many times as I’ve dined at Kitchen Table, I had never gone to their New Year’s Eve dinner event.  Normally, I don’t do these kinds of things anyway.  Also, most of the time, I have chosen to be somewhere warmer rather than colder if I’m going to travel anywhere during this time.   But I decided that if I’m ever going to attend a New Year’s Eve dinner event, the place I’m most likely to have a great time would be at Kitchen Table. 

They only have 20 seats, and there’s only one seating, so it can be difficult to secure a spot (I had a little help).  The dinner seating was for 8pm and would end just before midnight (glass of Champagne for the midnight toast included).  The menu required prepayment to secure the booking (excluded service).  Any beverages would be paid for at the conclusion of the evening.

The evening began with a Martinez cocktail for an apéritif upon being seated. It’s part Manhattan and part Martini, comprised of gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and bitters.

The first food offering was presented soon after.  It was a chilled Windsor carrot soup (pure, with no seasoning), served with  force-grown rhubarb granita and purée, sour cream, and fresh carrot and leek oil.  Force-grown rhubarb is raised in a shed with candlelight in Yorkshire. This was a very nice fresh start for the palate.

I did not go for the wine pairings for this dinner,  I chose to start off with a 2015 1ier Cru Chablis.

The first course that we were all served simultaneously was a variation on the signature crispy chicken skin and mascarpone dish.  We were served a waffle, some crispy chicken skins, wild bird liver parfait (pheasant, red-wing partridge, mallard, wood pigeon) , bacon jam, and rosemary mascarpone with thyme.  We were instructed to combine everything together, although I was a bit of a traditionalist and did the waffle with the parfait and the chicken skin with the mascarpone and bacon jam.

The next course combined two elements.  First, Parker House rolls were served with white Alba truffle garlic butter.  We were also served a quail egg with crispy potato, black garlic, balsamic, onion, and chervil.

The next dish was Cornish squid (sliced into thin noodles) cooked gently in coconut oil.  On top was a coconut sauce (made with coconut, lime, and chicken fat) and a serving of English caviar.

The next course featured pan-roasted hand-dive Orkney scallop, Jerusalem artichoke purée, compressed apple, dashi, scallop roe, and juniper sprigs for garnish.

For the full write-up, click here.

Restaurant Story 3rd Visit — London (12/2019)

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It had been about four years since my second and last visit.  About a year or so ago, I had heard it was time to go back.  I had a free Sunday evening while in London, and they were going to be open for service that evening, so I booked a reservation.  The restaurant uses OpenTable for its bookings. Restaurant Story continues to be a recipient of one Michelin star.

For my opening beverage, I ordered a Seedlip (non-alcoholic English distilled spirit and Pedrino tonic (which actually has alcohol in it from sherry).

The first bite was crispy cod skin and cod emulsion with individual carrot tops.  Gin botanicals were sprinkled to finish. This was on the menu before.

The next bite was also on the menu before.  It  was a “Storyeo”, made with a burnt hay biscuit, Somerset goat cheese mousse, and malt vinegar powder on top forming the “S”.

The next snack was a sandwich of sea buckthorn meringue filled with chestnut cream, toasted pumpkin seeds, sorrel leaf, and pumpkin powder.

This was followed soon by a rabbit sandwich, with rabbit leg rolled and compressed in polenta and lightly fried.  On top were some mushrooms and pickled carrots.  This was served very warm, which made it very nice.

Another warm snack followed.  This was a crab gougère made with brown crabmeat and Old Winchester cheese (also know as Old Smales and is often used in place of hard Italian table cheeses).

For my next beverage, I took advantage of the ability to have a glass of a 2009 Kistler Chardonnay.

The next dish featured Scottish langoustine tail that was barbequed on Japanese grill and served with black garlic mayonnaise and spirulina.  This was very tasty.

The next course was cooked oyster with a blood orange sabayon mousse.  This was topped with  platinum caviar (from hybrid osetra and Siberian sturgeon) and spring onions.

For the full write-up, click here.

Core by Clare Smyth — London (12/2019)

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I wanted to dine at Core by Clare Smyth ever since I saw it profiled on the Netflix show The Final Table where Chef Smyth was one of the first judges.  It has 2 stars from Michelin, and I was having difficulty booking, as solo diners only sit at the bar and have a different menu.  A chef friend offered to help get me in and I managed to secure a bar seat for a late dinner on a Saturday night (I took what I could get, even though it was not ideal).  However, when I arrived, they seated me at a very nice corner table with a view of the kitchen.  This meant that I could have the tasting menu experience.

The wine list was very nice, offering a wide selection of by-the-glass and half-bottle options. It is not often I see this many options, even at a Michelin-starred restaurant (particularly the half-bottles listings).

When dining at a table, there was a choice of either the Classic tasting menu, Seasonal tasting menu, or a prix fixe 3-course menu where the diner selects each course from a listing.  I went for the longest menu, which was the Seasonal one, along with the pasta option.

The small bites to start off were:  a gougère with roasted pumpkin in the middle, pumpkin tartlet, crispy glazed chicken wing with honey and thyme and topped with foie gras under smoke-filled bell cover, smoked eel with parsley jelly on a nori base.

I selected the Rioja reserve blanco 2006 for my beverage.

The bread was served with butter from Isle of Wythe. Refills of the bread were offered later.

The next course featured steamed Colchester crab.  In the bowl was the white meat served with fresh apple and celery.  On top was the dark meat covered with sabayon and caviar.  Next to it was a crab roll with crab jelly dressed with coastal herbs.  The last component was an intense crab broth with lemongrass, chervil and parsley. This provided three distinct flavors of crab.

The next dish was a Jerusalem artichoke tartlet with black truffle and artichoke truffle emulsion.  This had a very nice truffle aroma, but I didn’t seem to get the truffle flavor.  But it was a nicely prepared dish,

The next course featured Cornish turbot poached gently with mussels and with a smoked mussel consommé poured at table.  It was served with red apple, fennel, and cabbage.

For the full write-up, click here.

The Clove Club 9th Visit — London (7/2019)

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It had only been a couple of months since my last visit, but I was now back to lunch with this visit.  Being in the heart of summer, I was looking to see some great summer ingredients with some nice flavors.

They post the short menu outside.  I don’t always get a look at the menus, so I wanted to document when I can their full offerings.  The wine list changes regularly.

To start off, they offered a 2009 English sparkling Chardonnay that they were going to open for by-the-glass pourings.  It was very nice, with the age providing a mellowness to the flavor.

The opening snack was trout Nigiri.  This was served deconstructed, with nori on the bottom with some crème fraiche and rice kernels and a rice and rye cake.  Smoked trout belly topped it all off.

Next up were three regularly seen snacks:  Crab and elderflower tart, buttermilk fried chicken with pine salt, and warm mushroom haggis bun

The next snack was the melon gazpacho granita with charcoal cream and Ibérico ham gelée.

This last snack was almond blancmange (mousse) with Ossetra caviar and scallop roe dashi jelly.  This was a nice cool temperature dish to finish the opening bites.

For this meal, they offered to do a blend of soft/hard pairings, picking the alcoholic beverages when best matched with a dish.  I start with a sake dashi.

The main part of the menu started with flamed bonito, lightly cured in soy and served with green onion purée, lemon mayonnaise and lemon bits and crushed cherry tomatoes.

The next beverage was Fujian white peony tea.

The next dish continued with fish.  It was a Cornish sea bass sashimi with English peas, gooseberry Aguachile, and cucumber.  The fish was salted and brined for a little bit before slicing.  There was a little spice heat, along with tartness and salt flavor.

The next beverage was roasted buckwheat (brewed slowly and long) and chervil tea, served chilled.

The next course featured Hen of the Woods mushrooms (maitake), served with a Spenwood cheese cream (British hard cheese similar to a Pecorino).  This was a very tasty dish, with lots of flavor and mushrooms with a very pleasantly juicy texture.

For the full write-up, click here.

Kitchen Table 25th Visit — London (7/2019)

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I was looking forward to this visit because they had closed for a month (was supposed to be two) for remodeling.  Turned out they only remodeled the front part (the Bubbledogs part).  So, my visit was overdue in a sense.  Plus, it was the middle of summer, which is prime season for many local ingredients.

They first presented some pure tomato water from Isle of Wight tomatoes garnished with house-made fig leaf oil.  This was served as each guest was seated (i.e., not all at the same time).  This was a nice way to start with something refreshing (other than a drink).

The opening dish was Cornish brown crab, steamed and the brown and white meat separated.  At the bottom was some of the brown meat with crème fraiche.  On top was the white meat mixed with pineapple weed, a salad of dill and lemon verbena, and a garnish of salted gooseberries and cucumber marinated in dill.  At the counter, they finished the dish with a chilled light lemon verbena sauce.

The next bite was lightly smoked quail egg, topped with a shallot filled with black vinegar infused with winter black truffles along with some chervil.  Underneath the egg was black garlic purée, with all of this sitting on a spiral of crispy potatoes.

After starting off with the house-labeled English pink sparkling wine, I switched to a glass of the 2007 Paul Pillot Chardonnay.

The next snack was the chicken skin wafers with rosemary mascarpone and bacon jam.  While this has always been on the menu, this is the first time I’ve seen it served as a “sandwich”.

The Parker House rolls were next, first shown just out of the oven.  These were served with whipped butter mixed with aged lamb fat and tomatoes barbequed in lamb fat.  The butter was topped with pickled wild garlic buds and onion oil made from green onion tops.

For the full write-up, click here.

The Clove Club 8th Visit — London (5/2019)

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As a change of pace, and because of my flight schedule, I made a dinner reservation at The Clove Club instead of the usual lunch visit. In terms of the food, it is generally the same as the long lunch menu on the weekends. I was at the bar for the meal. The differences were that I had to go through a lighting change as the evening progressed and dinner reservations are prepaid when the reservation is made.

Before starting in with the non-alcoholic pairings, I ordered a glass of the South African Chenin Blanc to go with the small bites.
The experience started off with a melon granita with ham gelée, charcoal cream, elderflowers and gazpacho reduction. This was a refreshing beginning.

The next bite was spider crab tart with elderflower hollandaise and devil spices. On the side was a trout belly tartare with crème fraiche and Sancho pepper.
The next bite was the familiar (and always good) buttermilk fried chicken with pine needle salt.

Also served very warm was the mushroom haggis bun with cider vinegar.
The first menu course was a salad of biodynamic vegetables with a dressing of turnip milk and sesame.
To start the beverage pairing, they served white peony tea made with softened water.

The next beverage was fresh cucumber juice seasoned with mustard seed shrub.
The next course was lightly hay-smoked river trout, toasted almonds, watercress, and ossetra caviar.

The beverage for the next course was chamomile with a little smoked lemon and verjus.

For this course, we start off with Scottish langoustine, served with morels and asparagus.
This was soon followed by ancient proto-grains noodles from Orkney with langoustine broth. This had an especially good flavor.

For the full write-up, click here.

The Clove Club 5th Visit — London (6/2018)

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For this visit, I had mentioned when making the reservation that this was a birthday visit. Normally, for lunch, the present two tasting menus from which to choose (one is shorter than the other). For this lunch, they did not present me with the menu choices, partly because they knew I probably would select the long menu (based on prior history). It turned out they had a slightly different menu planned for me. This was going to be a blind tasting menu experience. For some of my prior lunches, I have opted for the tea beverage pairings. For this one, I selected the overall non-alcoholic pairings.

The beverage pairing for the snacks was Royal Flush Real Kombucha. The first snack was an Ogleshield cheese gougère.

Soon after, the next snacks were served. There was a tart with green beans, ewe’s milk ricotta and hazelnuts. This was followed by the spider crab tart with brown hollandaise and deviled spices.

For the full write up, click here.