Since it opened in 1991 David Moore’s restaurant Pied a Terre has played host to some very fine chefs, including Tom Aikens, Richard Neat and Shane Osborn. Since June 2011 the kitchen has been in the hands of Marcus Eaves, who was previously head chef of Autre Pied, the younger sister of Pied a Terre. Marcus had worked at Pied a Terre after training at Simpsons in Birmingham, at Lettonie in Bath and The Landmark hotel when John Burton Race was leading that kitchen.
Two courses were priced at £60, desserts £15, with two tasting menus at £95 and £145 respectively. A wide range of up to 900 wine choices were available on the list. Examples were Magpie Estate Fakir Grenache 2008 at £38 for a wine that you can find in the high street for about £13, Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2011 at £54 for a wine that retails at £17, and Zind Humbrecht Rangen 2000 was £162 for a wine that will set you back £54 in a shop.
This evening the meal began with some nibbles. Celeriac with foie gras and smoked duck breast in pig consommé jelly was pleasant but for me the smoky flavor was a little too strong (15/20). Chicken mousse leek and potato croquette with lemon mayo was better, the batter quite light, the chicken mousse having good flavour (16//20).
A selection of five breads was offered, made in the kitchen: walnuts and pecan, black treacle, oat bread, onion and sage brioche and a baguette. The baguette was the least interesting of these but the general standard was very high, the textures very good (17/20). A further amuse-bouche of salmon tartare was paired with cooked salmon wrapped in cucumber with wasabi mayonnaise. It is good that real wasabi was used (a UK supplier) but the flavor was so subtle it scarcely impinged on the palate, leaving the taste of some merely pleasant Loch Duart salmon (15/20). Much better was truffle soup with wild mushrooms, orzo (short cut pasta), smoked ducked breast and a little celery. This had excellent flavour, the seasoning spot on (18/20).
Hand-dived scallops were pan fried with fregula (a pasta from Sardinia reminiscent of couscous), a Pernod velouté, fennel jelly and dill. The scallops were sweet and precisely cooked, the flavours harmonious (17/20). Quail was served as both roast breast and leg, with Swiss chard purée, lettuce salad, quail egg, quail Kiev sausage and an onion ring. This was a lovely dish, the quail beautifully cooked, the Kiev sausage in particular excellent, the richness balanced by the salad elements (18/20).
Sea bass was roasted and served with puy lentils, glazed salsify, cavolo nero, Japanese artichoke and trompette de la mort mushroom. The bass had excellent flavour, timed accurately with good crisp skin, the cabbage and lentils a nice earthy contrast to the fish (17/20).
Black leg chicken from Landes came with a ragout of white beans, seared scallop, red pepper and chorizo purée and a shellfish sauce. I was less convinced about this dish. The chicken had good but not great flavour despite its provenance, and red pepper puree has a metallic taste that for me did not pair that well. The cooking was precise, but I for me this was the weakest dish of the meal (15/20).
A pre-dessert served in a little glass was lemon cream, topped with jelly of miyagawa (a Japanese fruit rather like a clementine), vanilla foam and topped with dried passion fruit. This was very pleasant, the fruit certainly interesting (16/20). Vanilla and orange creme caramel came with golden grapes, ginger ice cream and roasted almonds. This was very carefully made, the texture lovely (17/20). Millefeuille of mango came with passion fruit ice cream, diced lychee gel, mango purée and white balsamic purée. This was excellent, the pastry delicate, the fruit flavour coming though nicely, the dish well balanced, the presentation pretty (18/20).
An array of petit fours were top drawer: delicate lemon tartelette, white chocolate fudge with cardamom, chocolate case with passion fruit, mango jelly, lovely beignet with cinnamon sugar, a frozen chocolate ball with coconut ice cream (18/20). These were really top class petit fours, with excellent coffee that was a proprietary blend.
Service under Mathieu Germond was excellent throughout the evening. The bill came to £152 a head with a good bottle of Bonny Doon Cigare Volant and pre-dinner drinks. This is hardly cheap, but the standard of the meal was high, a little better than my previous meal here soon after Marcus took over the kitchen.
Further reviews: 04th Sep 2011