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#1 Rian

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 09:40 AM

Some of you may have been reading about this on other fora but I visited last night and thought it would be of interest.

We really liked the room. It’s light and airy, and once you’re sat down it really doesn’t feel like you’re in Soho. As you walk in there is a bar to your right, with place settings for eating there. The main body of the restaurant is around the other side of said bar, meaning that you come back on yourself into the larger space. We had a table for four just at the top end of the bar, looking down into the front space.

Once we’d settled in they offered us hunks of decent bread from a board.

Given the discount we went a little bit nuts. We each ordered 2 starters and a main. My own meal went as follows:

Crisp Braised Pig’s Head, potato puree, caramelized onion and garlic: Probably my favourite dish of the night. The thick slab of meat was meltingly soft, piggy, and gelatinous (in a good way). Had a nice touch of spice, too. Potato puree was good if a little stiff. I very much doubt that there is a more satisfying way to spend £5. Fantastic.

Slow Cooked Shoulder of Lamb ‘boulangère’, lamb sweetbreads, spiced dates, radish leaves: very nice. Alternating thin layers of potato and soft lamb topped with and encircled by the sweetbreads. My only criticism was that the boulangère was a hair too ‘potatoey’ for my tastes. It could have done with a touch more seasoning between the layers but texturally it was good. Sweetbreads were tasty little mouthfuls.

Probably a bad choice in the scheme of my meal but I couldn’t resist a main course of Pied at Pacquets (tripe parcels and trotters), soufflé potatoes: 2 quenelles of minced trotter alongside the 2 tripe parcels, with the potatoes arriving in a small dish alongside. The latter were akin to inflated crisps – round, crisp saucers of potato straight out of the hot oil. The crispness was welcome since the rest of the dish is rich, and moist. The trotter was redolent of the earlier braised head in its soft texture and meaty sweetness, hence my concerns about ordering these dishes in succession. Tripe parcels were relatively small in size (thank god) but big on taste: stocky and spicy, a sort of porcine oxtail.

Needless to say all plates were wiped clean by the consistent bread.

I also tried the following over the course of the evening. I won’t go into too much detail since I’m sure Andy Fenn will have his own comments.

Chicken oysters, macaroni, broad beans, lemon thyme and hazelnuts: I got a mouthful of this and I have to say it was pretty good. I thought perhaps there was too much nuttiness, but great texture on the oysters and the lemon thyme provided a welcome citrus note in the context of my own meal.

Squid and mackerel burger, BBQ sauce, vine cherry tomatoes: By far the weakest dish we had and a little out of place on this menu. There was plenty of fish in a rather pale patty, which had been laced with some oriental spice (I think a little ginger/coriander/spring onion), but otherwise it was a little bland. Needless to say it suffered by following upon the richer pork and lamb dishes.

Roast Rabbit, shoulder cottage pie, hispi cabbage, mustard sauce: again, very tasty. Cottage pie arrived in a little dish on the side, and was fantastic – probably the best element. I’ll let Andy give you his own thoughts on this.

Elwy Valley rump of lamb, tortellini of goats cheese, artichokes, tomato: very generous portion of bright pink meat skirted by a line of fat. This was actually one of the lighter dishes we had and benefited from the tart sweetness of the tomato.

We also ordered a couple of the mango desserts, which were good, but when Alphonso mangoes are around it’s hard not to put together something pretty tasty.

Overall, very impressed. For opening night, everything ran smoothly – even more impressive given our table’s slightly awkward ordering. The great selection of wines by the carafe gives you a chance to get a decent taste of a number of wines over the course of a meal, and will win them many friends. We had a relaxed, tasty meal, which even at full price would have been highly reasonable (the 3 dishes I had, at full whack, would weight in around £26). I’ll definitely be back. The full menu is as follows:


Soupe au pistou with Provençal olive oil 5.50
Warm cod brandade, young squid, sea purslane, parsley cromesqui 6.95
Crisp braised pigs head, potato purée, caramelized onion and garlic 5.00
Chicken sot-l'y-laisse (oysters), macaroni, broad beans, lemon thyme and hazelnuts 6.50
Slow cooked shoulder of lamb 'boulangère', lamb sweetbreads, spiced dates, radish leaves 7.50
Squid and mackerel burger 'a la plancha', barbecue sauce, vine cherry tomatoes 9.50
Salad of Jersey Royals, watercress, spring onions and goats curd 7.50
Smoked eel, pressed beetroot, horseradish cream, young leaves 10.50
English asparagus, soft boiled egg, vinaigrette, Parmesan 7.95

•••••
Salt beef 'pot au feu', spring vegetables, green sauce 13.50
Pied et pacquets (tripe parcels and trotters), soufflé potatoes 10.50
Roast Hereford beef rib, fat chips, shallot sauce (for 2 persons) TBC
Roast rabbit, shoulder cottage pie, Hispi cabbage, mustard sauce 13.95
Breast of veal lacquered with spices, butternut squash, cavolo nero 14.00
Poached and roasted chicken, tarragon gnocchi, garlic leaves, lemon and bacon 12.50
Elwy valley rump of lamb, tortellini of goats cheese, artichokes, tomato, Taggiascha olives 14.50
Fillet of pollack, spring greens, slow roasted onions, anchovy and rosemary 13.50
Sea bream, risotto of sea lettuce and cockles, light juice 12.00
Young Dover sole, field mushrooms 14.50 TBC
Puff pastry pithivier 13.00

•••••
Floating island with pink praline, custard 4.50
Vanilla crème brûlée, Breton biscuits, langue de chat 5.00
Classic cheesecake with strawberries, strawberry caramel 5.00
Warm chocolate soup, caramelized brioche, pecan nuts 5.00
Alphonso mango, empress rice, sorbet 6.00
Selection of ice cream and sorbets 4.50
Seasonal cheese served with a small salad 2.50 (per cheese)

#2 Tuckerman

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 12:59 PM

Squid and Mackerel Burger with BBQ Sauce?.....Hmmmm :lol: Doesn't sound too clever.

Interesting menu in general though and not overpriced. I want that Alphonso Mango with Empress Rice (whatever Empress Rice is) NOW! :lol:

#3 Rian

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 02:02 PM

Squid and Mackerel Burger with BBQ Sauce?.....Hmmmm :lol: Doesn't sound too clever.

Interesting menu in general though and not overpriced. I want that Alphonso Mango with Empress Rice (whatever Empress Rice is) NOW! :lol:


The burger was pretty weak, and a strange inclusion. We weren't expecting the patty of mince we got, but I suspect that we'd been duped by some Keller-ish menu writing. They'd listed it as a squid and mackerel 'burger'. Those oh-so tongue-in-cheek commas led us to believe that we might get some new, quirky, nay, exciting take on the burger concept. Alas, what we got was some minced fish, formed into a patty cooked a la plancha.

Silly us.

Empress rice was like a rice pudding, but not so loose and shaped into a disc. It was ok. Alphonso mango was, as always, astonishingly good.

FYI - a Shepherds Bush grocers is selling said mangoes for £8/dozen. Steal.

#4 Wilfrid1

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 02:30 PM

What a nice menu. I have never seen pieds et pacquets offered in a London restaurant before. As for the "squid and mackerel burger", I tried an eel burger in a New York "restaurant" recently - and it wasn't too clever. :lol:
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#5 Tuckerman

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 04:45 PM

What a nice menu. I have never seen pieds et pacquets offered in a London restaurant before.


Be interesting to see how long Pieds et Pacquets lasts on the menu. Many unfashionable foods do make a comeback, but tripe? I doubt it, even with a French name.

#6 Wilfrid1

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 05:08 PM

Tripe is all the rage in New York, these days, believe it or not. At least, it's on a lot of fashionable menus. Probably ends up as the staff meal :lol:
Elect-a-lujah

***Every Monday***At the Sign of the Pink Pig.

If the author could go around the place hitting random readers with a rubber hammer, the Pink Pig would still be worth a visit.

#7 Tuckerman

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 05:23 PM

Tripe is all the rage in New York, these days, believe it or not. At least, it's on a lot of fashionable menus. Probably ends up as the staff meal :lol:


I've only ever eaten tripe Indian style and home cooked (though not my home). I have tried to like it but when some came in from a dinner the other night and I was supposed to reheat it for my supper I realised-no. Its defeated me, and I doubt if I'll ever eat it again.

#8 Daisy

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 05:25 PM

I never liked tripe until I had it at Babbo.
Sardines aren't for sissies.---Frank Bruni
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The mistake one makes is to react to what people post rather than to what they mean.---Dr. Johnson
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I want to be the girl with the most cake.

#9 omnivorette

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 05:26 PM

Somebody should put that to music. :lol:
"It seems a positively Quixotic quest to defend food from being used as any kind of social signifier, as if it could avoid the fate of each other component of our everyday lives." -Wilfrid

#10 Daisy

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 05:26 PM

Only if you sing it. :lol:
Sardines aren't for sissies.---Frank Bruni
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The mistake one makes is to react to what people post rather than to what they mean.---Dr. Johnson
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I want to be the girl with the most cake.

#11 omnivorette

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 05:27 PM

Gee, twist my arm. :lol:
"It seems a positively Quixotic quest to defend food from being used as any kind of social signifier, as if it could avoid the fate of each other component of our everyday lives." -Wilfrid

#12 Matt

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 08:37 AM

I tried the squid and mackeral burger last night, it was surprisingly good, I'd expressed reservations about the dish when I first heard the idea. Quite a delicate dish probably best not to have had a pig fest before hand :lol:

Despite my obvious bias, probably the best value restaurant in London. Excellent cooking at low prices, if you try hard you can drive the bill up to £35.50, but on average you are going to come in around £25. I wonder if this could end up as the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in London?

#13 SamanthaF

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 09:43 AM

Matt, you are the best 1 man PR machine I've ever come across. You've eclipsed Andy Poole-Lynes by miles. :lol: :lol:

Am looking forward to going to Arbutus - my one meal at PB was brilliant.
Okay, they can tell me "miso butterscotch" until the cows come home, but I say it's toffee and I say the hell with it. This is the goo an eight year-old wants to find in the middle of a candy bar. No adult in their senses wants it creeping up on their pig parts.
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#14 Matt

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 09:56 AM

I should be paid! Don't expect PB style food but do expect good cooking at reasonable prices. There are places in Croydon charging this much and we know how often both of us go to eat there!

#15 Silverbrow

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 08:15 AM

Had lunch here earlier this week. The two rooms that make up the restaurant are light and airy and very Soho meeja.

As for the food it was good. I had my arm twisted into two starters each plus main course, plus dessert. I can't remember what the other two ordered so will let them post for themselves, if they so choose. I however, went old school in my choices.

I found both my starters disappointing

For starter #1 I ordered what is described on the menu as 'Asparagus, soft boiled egg, vinaigrette, Parmesan.' What I got was asparagus on top of a gooey sauce that looked like hollandaise but wasn't, with flakes of Parmesan. When I asked the waiter what the sauce was he couldn't really explain. This was my least enjoyable dish. The asparagus were slightly overcooked and the sauce lacked any taste. I couldn't even taste the Parmesan.

Starter #2 was a salad of Jersey Royals, watercress and goats curd. It was good but generally bland. The watercress didn't have any kick to it. It need some sort of vinaigrette to lift it.

Main course was far more promising. I had the Dover Sole, field mushrooms, crushed potatoes spring greens. The sole was served as two fillets, sitting one on top of the other, with a thick layer of pureed mushrooms between them. There was some mushroom reduction/veloute liberally 'dribbled' around the plate. The puree was delicious - very earthy and the fish itself was fantastic. It's the best sole I can remember having for some time. It was a modern enough take to make a change from meunieres, but not so radical as to lose the pleasure of this great fish.

Dessert of a creme brulee was also a bit disappointing. It didn't pass the crispy topping test for me and gave in to my spoon far too easily. Mr Dennis' vanilla cheese cake was fantastic though.

I had a carafe of '04 Domaine de L'Hortus that was cold, crisp and just fruity enough for a light lunchtime wine.

As you can tell, when they did well, they did really well, but when they didn't it was a bit bland. Charles Campion was in there eating lunch. At the end of his meal the chef went and sat down and had a chat with Charles. The first thing he said was "Sorry, it didn't quite come together today." I found this pretty interesting as that's what I felt. It had really really great potential but for me didn't quite hit the spot.