I was excited to go back to Pied a Terre, where Shane Osborne is cooking as well as anyone in London right now. The tuna starter on their menu right now is magnificent, simple blue fin tuna lightly seared and served on a bed of crushed potato. A poulet noir had excellent flavour but I was most impressed by the sauce with the chicken, which I assumed was a demi glace as it was so intense. Yet Shane explained that it was in fact made from chicken stock, reduced for four hours and then combined with red wine – it has the depth of a demi glace but the chicken base gives it a lighter flavour; interestingly, Nico Ladenis (now retired) used to take the same approach, and that is recommendation enough. Shane’s desserts seem rather over-complex to me, but the starters and main courses are superb, David Moore remains perhaps the most astute maitre d’ in London; it is great to see the place thriving after its fire.
We had another excellent meal at Zuma, which is still impossibly popular but at least in this case it is clear why: the menu is very appealing, the fish fresh and cooking technique excellent, as is the slick service. All this and very low in calories too – and how many things can you say that of? I also went back, with my American friend Stephen Pace, to Patara in Greek Street. There is a min-chain of Patara Thai restaurants, and having tried each of them I believe the Greek Street one is the best, and indeed is the best Thai restaurant in London right now. The cooking is a notch up from the many simple, pleasant Thai places that exist all around London. Green chicken curry was subtle, a spicy salad had excellent ingredients, and pad Thai noodles had excellent texture and flavour.
I also sampled the pleasant bistro cooking of High Road House, the latest venture of the people that own Soho House in London and New York. Part private members club with hotel rooms, part brasserie and part open to the public, after just a few days of being open it is already wildly successful, with 150 covers for lunch last Saturday and 250 for dinner. We went on Thursday and it was packed out; the menu is simple and appealing, the cooking competent. It is another sign that Chiswick is finally becoming trendy.