Mr GG took me for my birthday dinner last night and we had a wonderful meal. It's the "sister" restaurant to Arbutus in Soho, and recently got a Michelin star, which I think is much deserved
To start, I had smoked eel with baby turnips and apricot purée. This was the least successful of the dishes - although the eel was succulent, and delicately smoked, and the turnips were delicious, the combination didn't quite work for me. I guess they were trying to do something a little different from the normal horseradish combo. The apricot purée (actually a smear of vividly coloured jam) didn't add much either. Mr GG had a classic starter of asparagus and prosciutto which he loved.
For my main course, I had stuffed saddle of rabbit and braised shoulder of rabbit with gnocchi, olives and tomatoes. This was absolutely terrific - the rabbit beautifully tender and flavoursome and not at all dry, the gnocchi light and herby, with just the right amount of salty olives and juicy cherry tomatoes. I liked this a lot. Mr GG approved of his veal with broad beans - I had a bit and it was so tender you could eat it with a spoon, but the flavour was a bit mild for me.
I had cheese instead of a pudding. The cheese board was dominated by French cheeses, which I thought was a shame. Our (very nice) waiter said it was because the owner is married to a French woman and is enamoured of all things French! I had a goat's cheese made in the Vacherin-style (very good), a soft cow's cheese similar to Epoisses (divine) and a semi-hard cheese (good). Mr GG had chocolate soup (a very soft mousse) with milk ice-cream. He loved this and had to be restrained from licking his plate clean!
One of the things I like about this restaurant is that they do all their wines by the carafe as well as the bottle, so we had a white Rhone with our starter (one of my favourites) and a light pinot noir from New Zealand with our mains. And champagne (to start). And pudding wine!
Service was excellent. We couldn't decide which red wine to have so the waiter brought us both to taste so that we could have an informed opinion. He also gave me very good advice as to the cheese (also letting my try a little bit first) and gave me a freebie (it was my birthday after all!). He also presented me with a comprehensive list of cheeses I might like to try in future, with tasting notes!
A really lovely evening. The only criticism I have is that the tables are a bit too close together, meaning you couldn't help but overhear conversations from your neighbours (when is little Tarquin going to boarding school?). The clientele was also a bit too Mayfair for my liking (ie very posh and very skinny), but that's to be expected I suppose. It was also quite busy for a Tuesday night - no credit crunching in Mayfair yet, obviously, although the West End did seem preternaturally quiet for a summer evening.
It was expensive, but we did push the boat out. I think you could easily have a meal to remember for £40-£50 per head - which is what I spent at a local gastropub at the weekend!
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