Restaurants & Bars U.K./Ireland

Kitchen Table

ManInTransit | | Nov 2, 2012 03:36 AM

First time trip here last night and overall verdict is it's a fantastic addition to London.

Hidden at the back of Bubbledogs it has 19 seats around an open kitchen where James Knappett and his chefs prepare and serve you the food directly. I don't think there's another place like this in London, modelled as it is on Brooklyn Fare and Atera in New York.

The service is superb from the staff and chefs. Wine list is decent, not much at the lower end but really good by the glass offerings and as you'd expect the grower champagne list, much of it sourced from the Sampler, is fantastic.

And the food... as the photo shows you are simply given a menu with one-word ingredients and then the elements of each dish are explained as it arrives. And the menu changes by around 50%, sometimes 100% every day.

As with any such menu there were some dishes we preferred to others.
Raw shrimp with rosehip granite and homemade elderflower cream was the first dish and was a little bit of a miss for us to start but then pigs ear with radiccio and caperberries was very good.
The real standout dishes were mackerel with what tasted like intensely flavoured lemon rind and oyster foam, the scallop dish, duck hearts and figs, venison and an incredible dish of burrata, parasol mushroom and truffle - probably the best dish we've eaten this year.

Nothing is over-complicated but all but 1 or 2 dishes had the holy trinity of originality, flavour and execution. I didn't love a lobster dumpling for example but the depth of flavour was incredible and I can see how it would appeal to other people's palates.

At £68 for the menu it's not cheap but feels pretty good value for cooking of this quality. There aren't really any negatives - I would probably avoid the 6pm sitting personally as it would be half empty (although I suppose more chance to talk to the chefs) and you're quite tightly packed in and very close to your neighbours.

What really sets it apart though is the ability to interrogate the chef as to the ingredients, techniques, provenance etc. It was interesting that with no bread we didn't walk out of an 11-course tasting menu feeling stuffed which says something about the balance of the meal. The way he cooks is quite hard to place, it's certainly akin to Simon Rogan in the incredible focus on ingredients but he also shares some elements with people like Ben Spalding and Isaac McHale in the construction of dishes and then with a few fine dining techniques thrown in for good measure.

Strongly recommended, no exaggeration to say this might be the best meal we've had in London but I'd also say that it's a unique experience in the city at the moment.

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