This meal began with gougeres, here made using two year aged Comte and stuffed with black truffle. I have rarely met a gougere I didn't like and these were top notch, with excellent choux pastry given a whiff of luxury by the heady scent of truffle (18/20). I have long been a fan of a nibble here that is the kitchen’s take on Coronation chicken. Here it arrives as a cylinder with mango chutney and espelette pepper and a crisp sugar coating. The pepper neatly works to counteract the sweetness, and the gentle spices are in harmonious balance (18/20). Less impressive but still good was a smoked eel cornet with horseradish cream, which was absolutely fine but just not quite in the league of the first two bites (16/20). A further amuse bouche was a tart made of feuille de brick pastry with a filling of compressed oscietra caviar, baked potato mousseline and a layer of crisp potato. This was very classy, the earthiness of the potato contrasting with the briny caviar (18/20).
New season asparagus from Provence had lovely flavour, precisely cooked and served with confit egg yolk on a bed of egg yolk (the highly rated Burford Browns from Clarence Court), breadcrumbs and mustard cress along with beurre noisette sauce. This was a very classical combination of flavours, and the sourcing was impeccable. This was top-notch asparagus, served beautifully (easily 18/20). Langoustines (from Scotland and displayed alive just before serving) were blanched and prettily presented with celery, radish, carrot and fennel flowers and sauce a la nage flavoured with seaweed. This is a favourite dish of mine here, showcasing top-notch ingredients (18/20).
Another old favourite dish was the very last of the season’s celeriac, salt-baked and served with goat butter, veal jus and black truffle sauce and freshly grated truffle. I have written about this before and it is a special dish, showing that you do not need an expensive piece of meat to make a really memorable plate of food (18/20). Norfolk lobster came with broad beans, pea and lemon verbena sauce, pickled kohlrabi, and fricassee of almonds, broad beans and the lobster claw with lemon verbena and lobster bisque. The lobster was very tender and the pickling juices of the kohlrabi worked nicely to balance the inherent sweetness of the lobster (17/20).
The main course was Peterhouse lamb from Padstow. The cutlet, loin and breast was served along with courgette and basil purée and a separate tomato and cumin purée, along with Miranda tomato with basil leaves and lamb jus. On the side was a dish of spring vegetables, with both white and green asparagus and broad beans. The lamb was lovely and the vegetables were particularly good (18/20).
A pre dessert was woodruff tartlet with almond cake, yoghurt sorbet, poached pear and caramelised almonds. The dish was very pretty and the acidity of the pear nicely balanced the natural sweetness of the woodruff (17/20). The main dessert was milk chocolate, comprising a fudge disc, hazelnut feuilletine, a Valrhona chocolate disc, praline insert and decorated with dots of Gianduja (which is flavoured with hazelnut). The dish was completed by hazelnuts in chocolate with Maldon sea salt and hazelnuts dipped in caramel, as well as a tuile of grue toasted husks. This was a lovely combination of textures, the hazelnut flavour excellent, the presentation exquisite (19/20). For petit fours there were impeccable chocolate macarons and chocolate and orange Oreo biscuits.
Service, led today by our waiter Alexander, was excellent, and the bill came to £140 per person including drinks. This was another top-notch meal here, the cooking really having moved up a level in the last year or so in my view.Book
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