Four Degree

2C St George Wharf, London, SW8 2LE, United Kingdom

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This Franco-Japanese fusion restaurant opened in December 2017. It is next to a smart residential block of flats overlooking the river. Four Degree is owned by a Chinese family who run a restaurant in Beijing. Its upper level overlooks the Thames, though the main dining room is at ground level. The place is huge and very smartly decorated, with the main room, lounge, whisky room, several private dining rooms, karaoke bar and terrace seating in good weather. If every seat was occupied then it would seat 363 people, so this is a very ambitious venture. Actually accessing it is a little tricky, depending on how you get there. The restaurant entrance faces the river, but if you arrive by cab or via tube (it is near Vauxhall station) you have to walk around the building to get access to the entrance. Once you have navigated this then you walk into a very swish room with a central bar and banquette seating. Music plays in the dining room, though noise levels were reasonable. The executive chef is Kyoichi Kai, who previously worked at Kouzo, The Arts club and Zuma. The menu has a Zuma-esque feel to it, with sushi and sashimi but also main courses such as black cod and a selection of Japanese beef.  

The wine list featured labels such as Mark Kreydenweiss Kritt Charmes Pinot Blanc 2016 at £48 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £13, Varner El Camino Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 at £70 compared to its retail price if £23, and Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcino 2011 at £105 for a wine whose current market value is £49. Given the posh surroundings it is not surprising that the list kept climbing, so you could indulge in such things as Philippe Colin Les Chaumees Chassagne Montrachet 2010 at £145 compared to its retail price of £51, Chateau Angelus 1996 at £850 for a wine that will set you back £325 in a shop, or even Chateau Margaux 1999 at £1,250 for a bottle whose current market price is £483. As can be seen, mark-ups are not kind and barely moderate as you head up the list.

Sushi of akami tuna had rice that had decent shari (the rice element of sushi, neta being the topping), lightly vinegared, though not quite at the right temperature. Sushi rice should be at body temperature, a basic thing that seems to elude a surprising number of London restaurants, some of which serve theirs fridge cold. The rice here was not that cold, but neither was it warm enough. The tuna was decent if unexceptional, but I quite liked the eel. Notionally with sansho pepper, though that was subtle in the extreme. Pickled ginger on the side was good, but at these prices it was a pity that the wasabi was not real grated wasabi root (13/20). We tried a few rolls, including soft shell crab, spicy tuna and salmon, eel and cucumber and crab with avocado and caviar. The best of these was the eel, and the others were fine, the one flaw being that the nori seaweed wrapper for the soft shell crab was oddly hard to bite through. That aside, these dishes were 13/20 level on average.

Black cod (which is really sablefish) with miso was very good, carefully cooked and with buttery flavour, the sweetness of the miso nicely lifting the flavour of the fish (14/20). Teriyaki chicken was a little odd, coming as it did with cherry tomatoes, which felt like an odd pairing. The chicken itself was cooked all right, though the sauce could have had deeper flavour and been more plentiful, and dish would have been improved by just leaving off the tomatoes (12/20).

Black Forest dessert was good, consisting of a chocolate mousse, black cherry sorbet, maraschino cherries and a berry sauce. This is a classic flavour combination, and here the sorbet had plenty of flavour and the mousse had smooth texture and was suitably rich (14/20). I preferred this to coconut parfait, which was a coconut sphere described as a rocher. A rocher is quenelle made in a single movement and characteristically oval, so I am not sure about this menu description; perhaps they were thinking of Ferrero Rocher. Anyway, it was filled with yoghurt sauce and garnished with gold leaf, lemon curd, crunchy coconut and white chocolate, and an unannounced green tea ice element. It had pleasant enough texture and the chocolate was fine, but the succession of coconut elements had a rather one-dimensional quality; perhaps more lemon curd would have improved things (12/20).

Service was led by the urbane Roger Gibbons, who had lived in Osaka and Yokohama as well as having worked at numerous western restaurants.  The bill was a pretty steep £135 per person, admittedly with pre-dinner drinks and a bottle of J.J. Prum Spatlese, but still. The rolls, mostly at £9, and the single pieces of sushi at £5.50, quickly add up, and the black cod at £33.60 and desserts over £10 each cause the bill to rapidly escalate. If you ordered rather more carefully and shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per head might come to about £90 including coffee and service. This is far from cheap, as the prices feel like Mayfair level. On the other hand, the setting and décor are undeniably impressive. This is certainly an ambitious restaurant; it will be interesting to see how it develops.


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