Of the four noteworthy places we dined during my husband's birthday celebration, my favorite was Fera. Granted we don't indulge in tasting menus on a regular basis (I wish), but I do know that I prefer small bites of many different and unique flavors to an overabundance of one amazing dish. Perhaps that is why I preferred Fera. In this regard Fera may have been my favorite because that's where we experienced their tasting menu and where I felt like I was taken on a culinary journey as opposed to just having a nice meal. What I also liked about Fera is that, although the dining room exudes a typical hotel restaurant architecture (big and industrial), the Art-Deco interior decor keeps it a bit more interesting. I usually have reservations about eating in a hotel restaurant but Fera proved me wrong. Their carpeting also helps to make the space feel more cozy. Combined with their excellent customer service and their staff's knowledge of the menu and wines and their beautiful plating presentations, it was an extremely enjoyable time for us. I would recommend Fera's tasting menu. They also had a three-course lunch menu but the choices didn't really appeal to us.
Here's the tasting menu for that day with the wines:
Champagne accompanied the amuse bouche and these three starters-
Stewed rabbit with lovage
Pollock, horseradish and seaweed
Smoked row and red cabbage
Swede dumplings, Isle of Mull cheese and Wiltshire truffle (I could eat this every day!!)
Cotes due Jura Chardonnay 'En Chalasse', Julien Labet 2012
Raw veal, oyster, kohlrabi and apple (surprised at how tender and delicious raw veal can be)
Eden Valley Riesling "Didier', Tom Shobbrook, Australia 2013
Native lobster, kale leaves in lobster cream, crispy pork, sunflower seed (lobster could have been a bit more tender)
Gut Oggau 'Timotheus' Austria 2013
Sea bass, razor clams, salsify and sea beet
Vouette &Sorbee 'Blanc d'Argile', Cote des Bar 2009
Goosnargh duck breast, watercress, celeriac, sprout tops and mead (perfectly cooked breast, went well with the 100% Nebbiolo)
Maremma Ansonica, Santa Maria, Tuscany 2013
Valtellina 'Carteria', Sandro Fay, Lombardy 2010
By this time I was pretty happy from all the food and wine. I can't remember
all the details of the next libations, but the Sommelier brought us three different glasses of dessert wines and set them down in front of us. He asked us to taste and guess and we somehow managed to guess two out of three. I guess he poured us something else afterwards, but I can't remember it all (too much great wine and food).The Sommelier was wonderful and we really enjoyed chatting with him about different artisan wines.
Arbois Savagnin, Jacques Puffeney, Jura 2010
Amontillado '30 years', Bodegas Tradition, Andalusia
Sauternes 'Aletheia', Rousset Peyraguet, Bordeaux 2010
Maury, Clot de l'Origine, Roussillon 2011
British and Irish cheeses
Dorstone, Gorwydd Caerphilly, Lincholnshire Poacher, St. James, Stichelton
Chocolate malt nitro, prune and dandelion
Roasted fig, gingerbread and fig leaf yogurt
Pumpkin and whiskey
After walking around and shopping for a few hours, we ended up at a Barrafina's in Soho for dinner. Although there was a long queue of diners waiting for a seat at the bar, we were seated within a few minutes because a table freed up outside and none of the diners (about 12 people) before us wanted to sit outside.
By this time, my note taking took a backseat to people watching and just enjoying a lovely evening sitting outside in Soho. We ate the Milk Fed Lamb, Pluma Iberica, Calamares, Sardines and a few other dishes from their daily specials (can't remember now) and then tried a few of their different reds by the glass (Humilitate 2011, Rioja Reserva 2009, Vilosell 2011). We finished with the Conference Pear in Red wine, the last one for the evening. I liked Barrafina for its casual food in an easy open-kitchen environment. It's definitely a good destination for casual dinner after shopping in the Soho/Covent Garden area. It would also be a good place for solo diners. However, there was a line the entire time we sat there and ate, but it seemed to move relatively fast. The service is efficient and quick and the staff very friendly and helpful.