Friday, 22 May 2009

Martin Wishart: a final fling.

Whilst preparing for our trip down to London at the end of June, I read about the best lunch deals in the big smoke and it was while I was reading about the fabulous lunch at Le Gavroche, it suddenly hit me: I am not going to be able to have that lunch for a long long time. This trip to London will be our last before the arrival of He who must be obeyed and, although we are able to fit in a couple of dinners we will not have time for lunch, due to getting the train there and back and attending a wedding. So, with fine dining opportunities becoming scarce I was suddenly overwhelmed with an urge to fit in one last fancy meal.

Where to have such a meal?
Martin Wishart of course.

I did consider other places. I looked at Kitchin's menu, nothing took my fancy, Plumed Horse, same again, Wedgewood, nope, Grainstore not this time. I did fleetingly consider Paul Kitching's new place 21212. He certainly has a band of loyal followers judging by the posts on egullet. The place only opened on Thursday, and I usually like to give a place to relax into itself before visiting, especially if it involves the long and arduous drive from Glasgow to Edinburgh (!). I read the reports on egullet with interest but it all sounds a bit gimicky for me. For now refined French is good enough for me.

Rachel was joining HI and I, and since I am not drinking we decided to drive.

The place was full by the time we arrived and to our surprise there were many men there having lunch before going to the rugby! We were greeted by Stephen who we have not seen in ages. He offered to subsititute any dishes I cold not eat on the tasting menu but, for a change we decided to go al la carte.

But first the amuse bouche:
tomato water both Rachel and I said we could drink a pint of this- very refreshing and so savoury, something that looks like posh coronation chicken, and a mushroom mouse.

Freshly baked bread.

To go with the freshly baked still warm bread we had one of the best discoveries of the day: 'the best butter in the world', available at Henri's.

unfortunately it was not till I got home that I realised it was unpasteurised. Oops. I don't think Stephen realised either as he was so careful with all the other things I ate.
Bizarrely all three of us were going to have the same starter but then HI reminded me we had the option of truffle risotto, so I went for that, whilst the other two had the lobster croque monsiuer with veal tortellini

As usual the truffle risotto was happy tummy making

and the lobster and veal an elegant but interesting take on surf and turf.

For my main I had the beef shin, HI had the tongue, kidney and sweetbread plate and Rachel had the seabass.
The shin was very intense and rich

The offal plate (boom boom)

got the thumbs up and Rachel was very pleased with her sea bass

although I think she slightly preferred the version she had at Cameron House which was prepared with fennel.

The style was much more traditional French than the last time we were here, where foams and soils featured. It seems a deliberate move away from what is fashionable. I can't make up my mind if I think it is a good idea as I really like our meal the last time as well. Oh well it's for minds greater than mine to tease out.

HI and I could not pass up the Tart Tatin given it is one of my favourite puddings and one I have tried to perfect many times at home. This process has been made much easier by the purchase of a proper French Tart Tatin dish all the way from France. I personally prefer thinner tart's with a larger surface area to apple thickness ratio, but HI the traitor, said it was one of the best he has had. It did look quite impressive especially as it was wheeled out of the kitchen on it's own trolley and served to us by the nice young lady who had helped prepare it.

The cheese cart always features highly on any trip here and did not disappoint however we were so excited I forgot to take a picture! The cheese cart man- I really must ask him his name, was so informative that I was too busy listening to what he was saying to take photos. Rachel also had a pudding wine that was meet with cries of 'it tastes like juice".

The meal was very pleasant and relaxed. I like coming here because it's so consistent and you know that you won't have a meal that disappoints. The service will be top notch without being stuffy, the surroundings elegant, the food elegant but interesting.

The only thing I would say is that I think the tasting mneu is the way to go. We usually opt for that but given my dietary constraints and shrinking stomach the al la carte seemed like a safer option. I wondered if the portion size in the la carte would be larger but they weren't really, and besides, the glutton in me prefers the multiple tasting opportunites provided by the tasting menu!

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