Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Lost in Villandry

The name first came up at Taste of Christmas. I remember being torn between Iberica’s signature Milk-fed lamb shoulder and Villandry’s “Suffolk Texel lamb cutlet with haricot Blanc estuier, smoked Black Forest pancetta and mint”. Iberica won over with a longer queue. As I happened to look for a hassle-free venue for a girlie catch-up this evening, it was an opportunity to taste the iconic dish I narrowly missed.

Entering from the Bar entrance, we passed the food store into the main dining room, which really does look like a magnified dining room with an ultra high ceiling. Floral curtains divided the restaurant from the store; a few tables were more secluded on one side of the room that was decorated with a walled book shelf, like the study; the other side of the wall was embellished by rows of cutlery plastered on the wall. Spaciously homely.

The menu was worrying at first glance. Why does it remind me of Café Rouge? Even more worrying, where did the iconic lamb cutlet go? How iconic could it be, if it was advertised at Christmas, then removed from the menu a month later? I was sulking. First was Hoxton, now Villandry, where I stare at the menu and nothing captivates my attention.

French Charcuterie: French cooked ham, Bayonne Ham, Jesus de Lyon Salami, Saucisson Sec with Celeriac remoulade and Ciabatta Bread
It was a substantial starter even to share. All the cured meats were glittering with oil. The hams were excellent; cooked ham retained its natural moisture despite its intense meatiness, Bayonne ham resembled Serrano, slightly shallower in aroma but also leaner. I didn’t know I liked French hams. The salamis were on the rubbery side, both in taste and texture.

The pate shone through. It was rich, smooth and it lingers. Lee repels offal-related products, this means more for Wingz. The pickled cabbage(?) with French grain mustard takes the edge off the oiliness of the platter. Nice alternative to the usual olives and cherry tomatoes.

Line caught Cod, Artichoke Parcel, Potato Fondant
I didn’t note down the exact name of the dish, I blame it on the engaging company. I can’t even make a guess of the orange sauce because I don’t remember how it tasted. The fish was unfortunately overcooked, probably because of the thickness of the fillet, so the flesh was harsh on the tongue. The creamed spinach on the side, though, I enjoyed. It was more like a spinach version of macaroni cheese with a crusty cheese topping.

Truffle with Foie Gras Burger, with Truffle mayonnaise
Was I thinking about the Foie Gras burger by Joel Robuchon? Silly me. The meat patty was of a beautiful deep red in the middle and heavily charred outside. Sadly the meat was dry, stodgy, burnt-bitter. The foie gras was stunning, lightly burnt on the edge to harden the crust, the liquid centre oozed and mixed with the coarsely chopped beef. I just wish it tasted of something. Question is: I get the truffle mayonnaise part, but where did the truffle go? Not even a hint of truffle oil. Disappointing. It was a messy one, with too many ingredients piled together but little of everything else.

I was left puzzled at the end of the meal, as I had no idea why I chose this place. Perhaps I should have gone for Iberica again, afterall it is only 3 minutes away. Oh well, it was still a lovely evening, just little credit to Villandry.

170 Great Portland Street
Tel: 020 76313131

Villandry on Urbanspoon

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