(Visited mid-March 2012)
Well, we finally closed our eyes and ignored all the almost irresistible competition in the vicinities of this restaurant, that we had ignored for so long, and managed to cross the One-O-One entrance for dinner.
Smart room, with those curvy walls that give an eighties feel. We like it.
And the beginning is promising. The bread is very well made (no mean compliment from us…) and comes in several qualities, the seaweed flavoured butter is a big success, and the amuse, a fennel vichissoise with salmon confit is fresh and delightful and speaks to us with those olive oil drops.
We tried the signature Wild Norwegian Red King Crab, both visually theatrical and and delicious on the palate in both of the versions we chose. Woman went for the cold version, simply accompanied by a mayonnaise sauce (good).
In truth, this was the best way to appreciate the marvelous flavour of the enormous legs of this beast. It was fun to eat, too, even if not very conducive to conversation.
Man opted for the more elaborate version with sweet chilli and ginger sauce.
It was a very classy sauce with a pleasant, far from overpowering kick.
These are not cheap items but they would have been worth the full price (£27 apiece) that we didn’t pay (courtesy of the usual toptable offer).
Then the seabass (also from the Barents Sea like the crab, according to the waiter) in salt crust, the preparation of it a piece of theatre seen one thousand times but, like cricket, endlessly fascinating (or have we by any chance said this already?).
Compared to the similarly prepared fish we had had a few days earlier in Seville, we must say this London one was much better cooked: absolutely precise cooking in fact, the flesh delicately moist (however, the flavour of these Northern basses of course never matching that of their best Mediterranean cousins). Well presented too, accompanied as it was by various mollusks in a razor-clam shell, a slim cylinder of potato puree, and an airy shellfish champagne butter sauce with a sea lettuce mash, the protagonist of this dish really had the space to shine, and at the same time the chef had the opportunity to show his finesse. A very very well-judged creation. Again not cheap (£60 for the entire fish), but also very much worth it.
We skipped desserts, we skipped wine (the next day a rustic mega eat and drink at Briciole was on the cards…), and even resisted the petit fours (well, ok, let’s say we did not finish them all) but we had the chance to verify that they belong to the ever expanding ‘cannot make espresso’ club of fine dining restaurants.
Service is sweet once you manage to get their attention, which is not always easy with a rather full room. The cost was less than £100 overall with a 40% Toptable offer, no wine, no desserts, a 1 Litre (much appreciated) water bottle, and a tea and coffee. A price and a treatment that put a smile on your face.
In sum, this was a very accomplished seafood meal, a venue to try again. We feel that the a la carte menu offers the most sumptuous and enjoyable dishes (at the nearby table a Dover sole also looked very enticing), but we also want to try the lunchtime smaller dish sequence, which appears to be good value (a report by stalwart egullet contributor David Goodfellow, with far better pictures to boot, is here), even if you may end up leaving a little perplexed, like David. And then again for dinner, possibly many times. If only Koffman’s wasn’t so close