Medlar is named after an apple-like fruit that needs to be softened via a process called “bletting” in order to render it edible, tasting rather like a toffee apple. Medlar the restaurant, like its namesake, has shown plenty of resilience, opening in The Kings Road a full decade before my latest visit. Head chef Joe Mercer-Nairne must be one of the better qualified chefs in London, having attended Eton and Oxford University. After a course at Leith Culinary School, he trained at The Savoy Grill, Chez Bruce and Rockpool in Sydney. He has been in charge of the kitchens at Medlar since April 2011, when the restaurant opened.
Three courses were priced at £65 (or £55 for two courses), with a three course lunch available at £40. The extensive wine list had 506 labels and ranged in price from £20 to £1,300, with a median price of £95 and an average markup to retail price of 2.7 times, which is very fair by London standards. Sample references were Vega Rayo Reserva 2013 at £35 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £12, Marsannay, Coeur d’Argile Frédéric Magnien at £66 compared to its retail price of £25, and Dawson & James Chardonnay 2015 at £89 for a wine that will set you back £48 in the high street. For those with the means there was Lucien Le Moine Batard-Montrachet 2010 at £555 compared to its retail price of £330, and the glorious Henschke Hill Of Grace 2005 at £700 for a wine whose current market value is £823. Corkage is currently offered at lunch at just £10, a tenth that charged by Helene Darroze at The Connaught. Corkage at dinner ismore, but a still reasonable £25.
The meal began with warm gougeres made with Comte cheese. The choux pastry was just a touch on the dense side of ideal but there was plenty of cheese flavour (14/20). Tagliatelle came with shallot velouté, broad beans, walnuts, Parmesan and shaved black truffle from Australia. The walnuts and broad beans livened up the pasta and the truffle added a luxurious fragrance, but for the shallot velouté was one element to many, the creamy texture distracting from the nicely cooked pasta (14/20). I also tasted an excellent gazpacho that one of my dining companions had ordered, as well as the signature crab raviolo.
Poussin came with new season garlic, potato galette, green beans, celeriac puree and salmoriglio, which is a Sicilian herb condiment made with olive oil and lemon juice. This was a good dish, the chicken nicely cooked, the garlic pungent and there being a pleasing contrast between the earthy celeriac and the zesty salmoriglio (15/20). The cheeses were in good condition, including St Maure de Touraine, Camembert, Munster and Fourme d’Ambert. Dessert was a refreshing passion fruit sorbet, with freshly baked and lovely lemon Madeleines (15/20). Coffee is supplied by Union Coffee.
Service was charming, with an excellent female sommelier who knows her grapes. We were being treated by a friend tonight so I am not sure what the bill was, but if you shared a modest bottle of wine from the list then a typical cost per person might be around £90. Medlar has an appealing menu, good cooking and lovely staff. May it keep running for further decades to come.Book