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Lunch @ Hibiscus, Mayfair, London

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Lunch @ Hibiscus, Mayfair, London

limster | Dec 26, 2011 04:40 PM

A bowl of pork scratchings, dusted with something vaguely sweet and sour, each piece giving off a blunt and sometimes hard crunch, with a trace of fatty stickiness. Unfortunately they suffered in a comparison with the superlative torikawa I had the night before at Jin Kichi.

A soup or smoothie of carrot and apple, tart and sweet, set off with a spritzy layer of sparkling water was welcoming as a palate cleanser.

Then a startlingly wonderful pike tortellini, with al dente skins, thin and firm, with more than a passing resemblance to skins of the xlb from the outpost of Din Tai Fung in LA. The flavour of the pike filling is gentle but insistent, lasting after the pointed sweetness, meaty smoke and nuanced piquancy from the sauce of sweet corn and bits of bacon. One of the best starters I've had in a long time, the flavours clear and to the point, the textures perfectly calibrated, and to the utmost delicacy.

But the main course of roasted pheasant is ordinary . nice flavour, decent texture but unexceptional in the grand scheme of things. A cube of pork belly on the side pales in comparison to the chicarron at El Rancho de Lalo in terms of texture and flavour. A perfectly nice section of artichoke with a liver stuff is good, even if the heights set by the starter were no longer in sight. Bound by a sauce gribiche that I wished could be slightly less sour and slightly more balanced, and if only the herbs were not overpowered by the excessive tangy qualities of the sauce.

A glass of a dry white burgundy acquitted itself well, melon and mild oak, and perhaps the freshness of apple, complementing the sweetness and spice of the starter, and tempering the tangy sauce in the main course.

Dessert was a very cheerful chestnut parfait, the softness of what felt like a chestnut semi freddo (I could be wrong here) contrasted with a glassy surface of caramelised sugar, over which sat a quenelle of chestnut ice cream, full of the lovely chestnut sweetness as well as the inevitable powdery nature of pureed chestnuts.

Cute little madelines, still warm and crisp in the thin edges. Three pieces of nice chocolate bon bons, with fairly smooth ganache, but the shells not nearly as well tempered, lacking the gloss and snap of some of the best. A good enough Earl Grey from Jing tea.

Not a horrible deal at £42, but not a bargain either but that's what you get with the real estate premium in Mayfair. The highs and lows would probably give me some pause in returning for a full blown tasting, especially since places like Trinity offer a superior food and wine experience overall (with the exception of the pike tortellini).

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