(Visited December 2012)
It sounded like potential heaven: put together a skilled chef with the help of a couple of menu designers (currently no less than critic Fay Maschler and her Chef sister Beth Coventry) with top British ingredients, the winners of industry prize The Great Taste Award. This is what the restaurant at the Cadogan Hotel has done.
Ever the pessimist, Man smells the smell of shattered dreams. But let’s see. The menu reads appealing enough:
Great Taste Award Winning Cold Meats
potted wild boar, jamon Iberico de Bellota, saucisson,
handmade sweet corned pork, sourdough miches
Bellota? We thought they were celebrating British products! Anyway, these cold meats, even if coming from illustrious producers, were redolent of some lack of love for the meats and for cutting and preserving them properly (appalling the Bellota). Some dryness, some stringiness, some greyness and not all that expected flavour to write home about, except of some sadness. They were also not presented properly, all amassed in a measly mound, some pieces condemned to visual oblivion. The best of the lot was the corned pork.
On the other hand, this Loin of Wild Northumberland Roe Deer, celeriac puree, roasted golden beetroot & blackberry sauce
was a fantastic, beautiful piece of meat which benefited from sympathetic cooking, the sauce and roasted golden beetroot reduced to sticky intensity. The kitchen brigade showed its mettle here.
Apart from the venison, good memories come from the side veggies:
the vivid colours one million miles from the classic tired British vegetables of lore . Also a cobnut oil was remarkable, and stood the test of the stand alone taste very well.
In sum, a mixed experience, but with a high that was very high. If one isn’t fazed by a slightly dead atmosphere (at least this lunch) it’s tempting to go back and pick a different starter. And when The Masch and her sister finish their shift, it will be interesting to see what other menu designers concoct. There’s somebody in this kitchen who can obviously execute with flair.