In March 2013 La Trompette reopened after a refurbishment which has seen two small additional dining rooms, a larger kitchen and a general décor refresh; the restaurant can now seat 75 diners at one time. The kitchen has been upgraded in more ways than one, with the installation as head chef of Rob Weston, who was head chef of The Square under Phil Howard for over a decade.
I had two further meals here in July 2013, confirming that the level of cooking under Mr Weston has improved compared to when the kitchens were run by Anthony Boyd.
Slices of tuna were lightly seared and served with anchovies, French beans, black olives and crushed potato. This was a classical set of Mediterranean flavours, the beans cooked properly, the tuna of reasonable quality (15/20). Suckling pig was served with peas, broad beans, smoked creamed potato and grapefruit puree. The suckling pig itself was very good, with crisp crackling, the meat having plenty of flavour. However the smoking of the potato gave an odd flavour note, and although the grapefruit puree was a logical pairing to the richness of the pork, the puree itself was very astringent (14/20). Burnt vanilla cream with poached cherries was nicely balanced, the cherries going well with the vanilla (15/20).
At a March meal I started with a quail raviolo with savoury onions topped with bacon foam and a barbeque dressing. The pasta had good texture, the hint of bacon went well, though the overall effect was quite rich (15/20). Scallop (optimistically described on the menu as "scallops") with lightly curried parsnip puree had the useful balance of pear to provide some acidity. The scallop (from Orkney) had good natural sweetness and was carefully timed, the hint of curry flavour not too strong for the delicate flavour of the shellfish (16/20).
For main course, roe deer was served with glazed carrots, mash, turnip tops and juniper. The deer had good flavour but again this was a very rich dish, and I wondered whether a little more acidity would have been useful (15/20). Short rib of beef was slow-cooked and served with a croustillant of oxtail-smoked bone marrow, and picked walnuts, the walnuts here providing an extra textural element and the pickling a useful sourness to cut through the richness of the beef (16/20).
For dessert, early season Alphonso mango was served with gingerbread, passion fruit, whipped ewe’s milk yoghurt and lime. This was a refreshing dish, the lime working well with the yoghurt, and the mango contributing their lovely fragrance (16/20). Chocolate pave was served with milk ice cream and candied hazelnuts, the latter working well with the chocolate (strong 15/20).
Service was very good, as it always is here. Overall this was a much better meal than the last one I had here under the previous chef. I had previously downgraded the score for La Trompette and was on the verge of doing so again based on my last meal here, but under Mr Weston things are clearly back on track, even in the first week of operation. There are limits to how high La Trompette can aim given its price point and the ceiling this imposes on ingredient quality, but the technical level of cooking seemed to me getting back on track today, and I think that the new chef is on the way to restoring the culinary standards of La Trompette, which had slipped under the previous incumbent.Book