Friday, June 14th , 2013
Oblix is the first restaurant to open in The Shard (pictured), the tallest building in Europe. On the 32nd floor, the views through floor to ceiling glass are certainly spectacular. Although the owners are those of Zuma and Roka, there is nothing Asian about the dining here, Oblix being a “New York grill”. Given the location they could serve up pretty much any old slop here and still fill the place, so it was good to see that the kitchen made at least a token effort. Starters were fine, though an overcooked duck rather let the side down. Prices reflect the premium location. It is harmless enough, but fans of Zuma will be rather disappointed that something a little more ambitious was not attempted.
The Savoy River Room was the home of legendary chef Escoffier, but since the 2010 hotel refurbishment the River Room has already had one makeover and now has another. The new incarnation is Kaspar’s, named after the Savoy’s wooden black cat. Whether he will bring better luck is unclear. Our meal was rather mixed, with genuinely good desserts and one excellent monkfish dish, though at the high price point you would expect decent cooking. The service seemed torn between formal and casual, and not quite getting the format right.
Madhu’s in Southall has a very consistent kitchen, as one might expect for a place that dominates the UK’s Indian wedding catering market (on the day we visited they had catered six different large scale weddings, serving thousands). Service was uncharacteristically lax tonight, but the food was as good as ever: achari prawns were carefully cooked, cauliflower curry was good and a romali roti was excellent. For about £30 a head including drinks you will get enough food for at least another complete meal, and they will pack up leftovers for you.
Eight Over Eight is the younger sister of E&O, offering the same pan-Asian dining experience but in Chelsea rather than Notting Hill. The dining room is less cramped than E&O, and the place is wildly successful, with the pretty young things of Chelsea packed into the premises, both dining room and bar. Food was acceptable but not inspired, for example some sub-standard dim sum mixed in with quite good pad Thai. The price point here is very high for the quality of food delivered, but that doesn’t seem to trouble the locals.
I had an exceptionally good meal at Hedone, going the “carte blanche” full blown tasting menu route. Late season Luberon asparagus was the best I have ever had, including three-Michelin star places in Paris, and the elegant langoustine dish was a good demonstration of the more elaborate cooking style in place since they attained their first Michelin star. Desserts such as the sophisticated lemon variations dish and the millefeuille using made-from-scratch puff pastry show the technical skills of the kitchen, whose savoury dishes focus on showcasing the very best ingredients that its obsessive chef can find. It is only a matter of time before the second star appears. In the meantime just go and enjoy this superb food before the prices go up.
In other news, Sergio Hermann announced that he will close 3 star Michelin restaurant Oud Sluis in late December 2013. His announcement is here. He will continue to own Pure C, a one-star beachside restaurant in Cadzand, and will open La Chapelle in Antwerp in January 2014. Those who miss Bjorn van der Horst’s cooking (ex Eastside) will be pleased to know that he is returning to London running the kitchens of the Rosewood Hotel, which opens in October.