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Restaurants & Bars 2

No. 9 Park

Harters | May 27, 2012 02:06 AM

If it’s not too much a contradiction in terms, then I think I’d describe the restaurant as being “casually elegant”. Or, perhaps, elegantly casual. Certainly there are no pretensions, yet the service is entirely formal with staff having good knowledge of the dishes and the extensive wine list.

For starters, a mushroom tartlet was small puff pastry affair, filled with chopped morels. It was a subtle taste of the mushrooms which may have been deliberate to allow the topping of goats cheese to come through. But, my partner having opted out of the cheese, we’re unsure whether this would have worked. A little salad with a truffle vinaigrette did work well. Meanwhile, I was enjoying a very seasonal plate of grilled asparagus, with a scattering of crisped veal sweetbreads, caper butter and an oyster béarnaise. This worked well, although the béarnaise was the least successful part – the oyster flavour being too subtle.

For mains, there was a large slice of pan fried halibut, cooked a tad past the translucent stage, but packed with flavour. A few deshelled plump mussels and a couple of slices of baby artichoke decorated the plate. Good dish – well conceived and generally well executed.

Colorado lamb came two ways. First in a delicious long-cooked style. And, second, quickly cooked loin, perfect to the “pink” stage. It was enhanced by a smear of burnt rosemary sauce, some pieces of fennel and a few baby onions. It was, shall we say, a very restrained example of portion control but tasted superb.

Although evenything had been generally good so far, it was time for the restaurant’s star employee (in our opinion) to step forward . The offerings from the pastry chef were first class. First up, a black olive financier, served warm, was a triumph (even if my partner, who knows about these things and can be pedantic, commented that a financier is a particular oblong shape – and this wasn’t). That aside, this was an excellent sponge – lightness itself and matching sweet and savoury in each bite. Also on the plate, some ice cream and a frozen white chocolate “cigar”.

The other plate was a chocolate vacherin and it was wonderful in itself but was enhanced still further by an intriguing smoked vanilla ice cream. Yes, smoked vanilla. It shouldn’t work. But it did.

And the petit fours that came with coffee were also excellent in themselves– and orange flower marshmallow and an intensely fruity jelly. Although neither were particularly good accompaniments to coffee.

All in all, a thoroughly good evening (with thanks to local Chowhound LindaWhit for suggesting the place to me).

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