Monday, 1 September 2014

Pampering at Petrus

Petrus has been sitting on my list for a while, just haven’t found the excuse to make a booking. Then it was decided that we don’t need an excuse for an occasion, or an occasion to take me out for dinner. How spoilt I am.

We were introduced to the menu as the nibbles were brought to us. The steamed chicken oyster was subtly fragrant and tender, which was a nice contrast to the fragile rice cracker with a potent wasabi kick. 
Then the bread made an entrance from a sack, with freshly churned butter as well as olive oil. Next came the amuse bouche tomato tartar with aged comte as our sommelier decanted our wine. I almost forgot how much I like being fussed around.

Foie Gras Parfait with golden beetroot, port and voatsiperifery pepper
The parfait was wrapped in a beautiful deep purple coat, luscious velvety without being too dense; whipped to the perfect consistency to go with the warm brioche on the side. The foie gras flavours were powerful and intense, with touches of sweetness that complemented well. The not-a-typo-but-unpronounceable-pepper was ultra subtle, just a tinge on the nose to give it small twist.

Roasted hand dived scallops peas, lettuce, lardo di Colonnata, crème fraiche and lemon thyme
Seeing the scallops was on the tasting menu, I decided this over the rabbit loin.

This is a familiar dish; most French restaurants are serving something similar on their menu. As expected, the plump scallops were perfectly roasted to give a crispy edge and a creamy, semi-cooked centre, paired with crunchy peas minus the raw earthy tones. The toasted lardo was a touch of finesse for me, giving the subdued nuttiness without overloading the grease.

Herdwick mutton cooked over charcoal with vadouvan, smoked aubergine, mint and sheep’s yoghurt
The mutton loin was cooked to a beautiful medium, soft, bouncy and succulent with subdued gamey flavours. There was a Middle Eastern touch to the dish with the smoked aubergine and minty yoghurt, both worked really well with the meat.  It reminded me of the lamb dish I had at Typing Room, only this version was much more controlled, the sweetness was more reined in and the smokiness was less overpowering. It was a balanced ensemble.

Black Galloway ox cheek with alliums, smoked bone marrow and shallot sauce

Compared to the mutton, I thought the ox cheek was less impressive. The cheek was slow-cooked to a delicate tenderness, with the shreds of meat disintegrating into the smooth puree as Mister pressed his knife onto the ball of meat. The sauce was light but concentrated with bovine flavours, which the shredded cheek mopped up. It was still slightly leaning towards the dry side for me, I wish there was more melty, gelatinous cartilage that intertwines the lean muscles, or that the sauce infiltrated the mass more to moisten the cheeks. Perhaps my version is nowhere near as refined and elegant, I daresay it’s more rustic and comforting.


Chocolate sphere, milk ice cream and honeycomb
This arrived at the table as a perfect sphere and was sparkling with golden speckles. Then the server slowly poured warm chocolate sauce over the thin shell, which melted away to reveal the ball of ice cream and nuggets of honeycomb inside. It was extremely rich and indulgent, and guiltily satisfying.

Chilled melon salad with Lavender Ice Cream
I only wish I could say this had the same dramatic effect as the chocolate sphere. A much lighter dessert with an array of melons rounded off with honey dew puree; the lavender ice cream was a delightful touch that added much fragrance to the fruits.

I had a wonderful evening at Petrus. The team was attentive and professional without being cold; we were adequately looked after without feeling intruded. The cooking was meticulous and skilful, all dishes were executed with precision. There may not be any daring moves in the recipes, but everything was exuding finesse and sophistication. Petrus had good food, great wine and together with the fantastic company I had, I could not have been happier.

1 Kinnerton Street
Tel: 0207 592 1609

Petrus on Urbanspoon

Monday, 25 August 2014

Pizza Pilgrim Pizzeria & Frigittoria – Neapolitan Expansion

I wasn’t sure where to have dinner with Lee on a Monday night, and then Pizza Pilgrim 2 soft launch popped up on Twitter. Perfect – good pizza and 50% off food too.

We got there early-ish, 6:15pm and it was a short 15min wait. Like the Pizza Pilgrim on Dean Street, the centrepiece was the massive oven, and there were tables in green chequered tablecloth. We started with a carafe of Prosecco on tap to share and some nibbles to check out the Frigittoria part of the new gig.

Carciofi Fritti – Deep fried artichoke hearts with rosemary salt
Simple stuff well made. The artichokes had a crispy edge and were bursting with juice as I bit into them. Good seasoning and incredibly moreish.

Arancini Rosso – tomato risotto balls with smoked mozzarella
There were 3 deep-fried arancini balls per portion. The deep-frying was done very well, the shell was crispy and almost grease-free, encasing the soft, creamy risotto with tomato and half-melted mozzarella in the centre. The flavours and textures were sensational, I could have smashed a few more if they weren’t so filling. These would have been even better if the cheese had melted fully and the risotto less mushy, but still pretty darn awesome.

Aubergine Parmagiana Fior di latte, roast aubergine, parmesan, cherry tomatoes, garlic
I didn’t get to taste the plum tomato passata last time when I had the Portobello mushroom & Truffle Oil pizza at the Dean Street shop, so we picked one of each this time.

We were slightly disappointed by how little aubergine there were on the pizza, could have been more generous to help spreading that flavour around. The tomato sauce was gorgeous, mildly tangy but mostly refreshing sweet, mixed well with the smooth and milky mozzarella. The sourdough base was as good as I remembered it to be, moist and chewy with a gently charred, crispy edge. It was an honest and simple pizza with great ingredients, nothing tricky or gimmicky, just pure authenticity.

Carbonara Bianca base, roasted pancetta, fior di latte, parmesan, pecorino, black pepper & an egg yolk
I think we both agreed this was the better pizza. The white base pizza was cheesy-rich and indulgent, with the right amount creaminess from mozzarella and nutty pecorino, topped with a sprinkle of crispy and savoury pancetta and a runny yolk – it was a tried and tested combination of flavours done very well.

Nutella Ring
As if we didn’t have enough pizza, we decided to finish off with a chocolate filled pizza ring. We also ordered some hazelnut ice cream from Gelupo to mix with the warm Nutella doughy bread… winner.

Pizza Pilgrim 2 really stuck to their stuff of making traditional Neapolitan sourdough pizza, using quality ingredients in and around Naples. I prefer the space in Kingly Court compared to the basement seating in Dean Street, and there are more to sample with the Frigittoria, but the two joints are equally good. I’ll be coming back for the deep-fried calzone.

11 Kingly Street
Tel: 0207 287 2200

Pizza Pilgrim Pizzeria & Frigittoria on Urbanspoon
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